There Are Times Our Mayor Should Shut Up!

A few years ago, my son and I were invited to spend a few days in the Black Hills with the rest of my family. Since his mother lived in Redfield, I had to leave a few hours early to pick him up. Instead of heading south to get back on interstate 90, it appeared to be quicker to head directly west on state highways.
This method took us through a part of the state that I barely knew existed. The highways were primarily two-lane, with the exception of a few miles either side of the Missouri River. Even worse, these highways were in terrible shape. There were potholes all over the place; at some points there weren’t even two full lanes. Combine these conditions with the constant presence of slow-moving farm vehicles and you have an eight-hour drive that should not have taken more than three or four.
This trip was over a decade ago, and from what I’ve been told there has been little, if any, work to improve these highways. I’d bet it’s safe to say that this is pretty typical state of affairs for a good percentage of our state’s roads.
With the passage of President Obama’s economic stimulus bill, our state could possibly see approximately $183 million in the next two years to spend on state transportation projects. Surely, nobody can argue that a wise use of a good percentage of this money should go to upgrading these highways.
Oh wait, there is one person who is not happy. Our wonderful Mayor complained in Tuesday’s Argus Leader that not enough of this money was coming to Sioux Falls. In an interview on KELO he elaborated, saying that he felt this money should be earmarked for projects such as an interstate exit on 85th Street and the ongoing Highway 100 project on the east side of town.
The interstate exit is ridiculous in my eyes, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with the widening of the highway that will eventually be the home for Kohl’s, Target, and possibly Best Buy. This is a project that’s already in our budget, though, and will be completed no matter how federal money is dished out. A portion of our sales taxes are supposed to be designated for street projects. Let’s use that money for where it’s already been designated so that our Mayor doesn’t come up with other pet projects that we don’t need.
It’s unlikely, though, that these state highways will ever be upgraded without this federal money. This is a one-time opportunity to make these roads safe for not only our residents, but tourists and truckers from outside of the state.
Plus, the Mayor’s comments is going to further the rural belief that us “cityfolk” only think about ourselves. Already, many online commentators such as Pat Powers are making this very point. “Psst, Dave. It’s not all about you. South Dakota does exist beyond the borders of Sioux Falls. And the people outside of SF deserve a little stimulus too.”
Munson also fails to disclose that it’s likely that we will see some federal money besides the “snow gates, highway fencing and pavement marking” that he complains about in the Argus article. Over $60 million of this money has yet to be budgeted, and many local projects were submitted in the 2008 U.S. Conference of Mayors.
Along with both of the Mayor’s pet projects already mentioned, there were submissions for the Rail Relocation Project, an overpass on 69th Street, and expansions or extensions of a handful of other streets. Plus, it’s likely that the Lewis and Clark water project will get the aid that the previous administration failed to fund.


Anonymous said…
I don't think our mayor is alone in his thoughts. Sure, it would be great if every road in South Dakota could be perfect, but that's nonsense. I expect county and township roads, and barely used state highways, to be in less than stellar shape. Spending this one time money resurfacing what will just go to hell again in ten years seems pointless. Building a new exit or a new road, however, are great uses for what is essentially one time money.
Anonymous said…
Still time to get into the Mayorial race. If you, or one of your friends, couldn't beat Vernon Brown then we all deserve Sioux Falls politics. Sounds like Dave is also going to push hard for the new Arena before he's out of office. Where are my alternatives in the voting booth? You're not giving me anything here, Mr. Gadfly.

Popular Posts