Big downtown bridge bid doesn't carry over to Veterans Parkway project

Construction of the next segment of the beltway around south Sioux Falls begins this year.

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Image from a video illustration of the Veterans Parkway road project in southern Sioux Falls.
Contributed / City of Sioux Falls

SIOUX FALLS – Efforts by the nation's fiscal policy makers to curb inflation may be good news for the people who pay for new streets in Sioux Falls.

Two major arterial street projects related to the expansion of Veterans Parkway in southeast Sioux Falls recently drew multiple bids that came in within estimates.

That stands in stark contrast to the controversy arising from plans to rebuild the Sixth Street bridge downtown, where the estimate of about $11 million was dwarfed by the single bid of more than $21 million.

That difference is due, in part, to the nature of the work. There are simply more contractors that build streets than there are that build bridges. Also, the Sixth Street project is downtown, wedged between buildings on a bed of pink quartzite.

Still, the fact that two major road projects didn’t come with sticker shock is reassuring for city officials given the inflationary pressure in the building industry in general.


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Mark Cotter, public works director for the City of Sioux Falls.

“One of things that we are hearing is that with interest rates, the housing market has slowed down,” said Mark Cotter, director of the city’s public works department. “So potentially some of the capacity of those contractors that normally build a lot of (housing) development streets will be available, at least in the first half of the year, which could help stabilize some of our initial bids. Then we’ll see.”

The two projects are part of the next phase of Veterans Parkway, a six-lane belt from Interstate 90 on the east side of the city to Interstate 29 on the south. The next segment from Western to Cliff avenues will be bid and begin construction this year.

The bids that opened in recent weeks were for arterial streets that will feed into Veterans Parkway.

The estimated cost to build 57th Street east from Veterans to Six Mile Road was $6.44 million. The lowest bid of the five received was $5.15 million.

A portion of Cliff Avenue south from 85th Street was estimated at $6.21 million. The lowest bid among seven was $4.15 million. “That will provide a new arterial to Harrisburg (School District) Freshman Academy,” said Cotter.


It’s good news, said city councilor Greg Neitzert, but it’s not comparable to the Sixth Street bridge project.

Neitzert favored turning down the bid but was on the losing side when it was accepted on Jan. 17.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Greg Neitzert.

“We continue to get very competitive, if not below, bids on roads,” he said. “Bridges are unique. That one was over a river and squished into downtown.”


Councilor Sarah Cole had indicated that she would move to reconsider the bridge bid vote. That procedural maneuver can only be introduced by a councilor who was on the prevailing side of the vote.

Cole voted to accept the bid in January but expressed reservations the following week when the council learned the contract had been signed, though they believed it still required a supplemental appropriation. The opportunity to reconsider the vote was at the city council’s regular meeting on Monday, Feb. 6.

Sioux Falls City Councilor Sara Cole.
Contributed / City of Sioux Falls

But Cole did not make the motion to reconsider. She said in an interview following Monday’s meeting that she has since met with a developer and others affected by the project.

“Development in that area depends on that bridge being completed,” she said. “While the timing is frustrating, the development needs to move forward.”

There was also a practical reality.

“The votes weren’t there,” she said.

Patrick Lalley is the engagement editor and reporter for Sioux Falls Live. Reach him at
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