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5 Worst Intersections in Sioux Falls

I-229 at 41st and Cliff

Aggravation is everywhere when you drive. Slow geriatrics, tailgaters, teenage texters and people from a certain state are everywhere adding to the headache of driving. Intersections that can’t keep up with a growing city also cause one to pound your dashboard.

Now before I begin I will definitely say that my list is based on the intersections I use. I know there are likely others, especially on the north end of town. Here are my 5 worst intersections in Sioux Falls.

5 – SB Kiwanis Ave at 49th Street

49th & Kiwanis

This intersection only goes in three directions, so how can it be bad? Try going south on Kiwanis and turn left onto 49th. The light stays red for sanity-shattering two minutes. That’s not bad if you’re nuking food in the microwave, but when you have to wait two minutes for a light to change it seems like eternity.

As far as I can tell, there’s no sensor to tell it to change when there’s a vehicle in the left turn lane. I once sat in that spot at around 9:00 P.M. as the only car in the intersection, with no cross traffic on 49th, and it stayed red for two minutes.

Way around it: Cut left onto 46th Street to Elmwood and then 49th, or just go all the way to Western Ave. Or, if you are sure there are no cops around, just run the red light

4 – NB 41st Street & Western Ave

41st & Western

41st street is busy all the way through town. Even the two lane version of it on the east side has a plethora of vehicles traveling everyday. The part of this intersection that sucks is traveling northbound on Western Avenue.

There are two northbound lanes and a left turn lane on Western and they are always busy. In an attempt to circumvent the long middle lane, one might try the right lane. But if you’re not turning right and you cross 41st, you soon realize that Western is only a two-lane street and you only have until the end of the Gas Stop’s parking lot to get merged with the traffic, or stop for fountain pop and try again in a few minutes.

Way around it: I always turn right on Western and then go around the block at Willow or Hawthrorne. It’s always faster, unless there isn’t any traffic. Or take Kiwanis Avenue to go north. Or take a helicopter to get to Sanford.

3 – I-229 & 26th Street

26th St & I-229

People who live in this area know how awful it is. If you have never had occasion to exit northbound I-229 at 26th Street between 4:45 and 5:45 on a weekday afternoon, have a book along. You’ll be sitting there for a while.

The off ramp is very long, but that is a good thing. If it wasn’t, traffic would be backed up to Minnesota Avenue. The problem is that east of I-229, 26th street goes from a two-lane street to a four-lane at the bridge, backing up all of the westbound traffic. Going east there is a log jam again because of the intersections at Southeastern and Cleveland Avenues. So even if you do escape the off ramp, you immediately enter a parking lot on 26th Street.

Way around it: If you are on northbound I-229, it might be a little out of the way, but exiting I-229 at Cliff and going around to 49th and Southeastern will at least keep you moving.

The good news: The city and state are studying how to make improvements.

2 – 41st Street & Louise Ave

41st & Louise

If the time is between sunrise and sunset you will find the busiest intersection in South Dakota looking like a super-sized bank drive-thru. It’s location in the retail heart of the city makes it an obvious choice for this list. Out-of-towners clog it up not because of lack of city driving experience, but because the number of stop lights make it look like Christmas display and they slow down to watch. When you consider that there are 30 lanes of traffic coming and going from the junction you may feel like sleeping in on Black Friday this year.

The biggest problems don’t even happen at the intersection. They usually happen within a block or two of it. I can’t tell you how many times someone going north on Louise has stopped 50 yards short of the light so they can turn left into Wendy’s and causing half a dozen cars to accumulate behind them. I love a Frosty as much as the next guy, but please, go around the block and turn right into the parking lot.

Way around it: Never go shopping in Sioux Falls.

The good news: It may be insanely busy, but at least it’s the best designed intersection in town.

1 – Southbound I-229 & I-29

I-229 Dover Raceway Comparison
Google Maps

 

I don’t know for sure, but this has to be the interchange with the longest clover leaf in the world. I measured the southbound exit ramp from I-29 to I-229 with the odometer in my car. It measured one mile long. That’s the same length as the NASCAR tracks in Dover, DE and Phoenix, AZ. You almost fit the footprint of the Empire Mall inside the loop of the southbound exit loop. I hope there was a really good reason to make elliptical off ramp one mile long, but it looks like an enormous waste of concrete and expensive real estate.

I-229 Loop & Mall Footprint

The southbound I-229 exit to I-29 has little to improve on. Sure, it’s a little long, but you can still nearly drive the speed limit and it’s certainly not obnoxiously long.

Way around it: 4-wheel drive truck or SUV or any other side street.

 

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