Street & Fleet

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is responsible for construction and maintenance of my driveway approach and associated gutter? Why won't the City replace my driveway approach?

The approach is considered to be the responsibility of the property owner. The gutter in front of the approach is considered to be a part of the approach. If the gutter pan needs replacement with the approach, it is the property owner's responsibility to do so.

Approach Responsibility

Areas shaded blue (driveway approach and the gutter in front of approach) are the property owner's responsibility. Property owner may hire an insured and bonded contractor to make repairs or replace the approach and gutter. If approach is being replaced, property owner is also responsible for area shaded black (18" asphalt cut-out.) Asphalt must be cut out and patched to match new approach gutter. A driveway approach permit from City Engineering is required before starting construction.

There are several reasons why the City won't replace deteriorated driveway approaches:

  • Driveway access to the public street directly benefits the individual property, so the responsibility for maintenance and construction remains with the property owner.
  • Most driveways replacements are done when the property owner desires replacement. It would not be logical for the City to mobilize a contractor to the site to repair the gutter and/or driveway approach while the property owner has their own contractor on site replacing the driveway. It is more efficient for one contractor to complete the work. Note: If a City project requires removal of the approach or gutter (for example, during a utility reconstruction) the approach will be replaced during the project.
  • Many property owners choose to construct their approach and gutter monolithically (in one piece). Without a joint between the approach and gutter, it would not be feasible to replace the gutter without replacing the entire approach. A gutter-only repair on these driveways would not meet expectations of the property owner.

Some street projects replace the driveway approaches. Are those costs charged to the property owner?

If a street project requires the removal of a curb and gutter and/or approach (such as during a total reconstruction or utility project) the cost for the new approach will be paid for by the project. On projects where the driveway approach doesn't need to be adjusted, property owners are encouraged to coordinate the replacement of their approach, if desired. In this case, the property owner pays for the new approach and must hire a contractor to do the work privately. Examples of projects where driveway approaches are not replaced include an asphalt mill & overlay project or slurry seal surface treatment.

My neighborhood has old/broken curb and gutter. Some of it has been heaved by tree roots, holds water or has been damaged by snow plows. Will the City come and repair these areas?

Curb and gutter repairs outside of driveway approaches are typically done when there is an asphalt overlay or other street/utility project in the neighborhood. As your neighborhood becomes a candidate for an overlay or other significant project, the curb and gutter will be evaluated for repairs or possible replacement.

Why are so many streets under construction during the summer months? Can't some of this work be delayed or spread out?

We live in an area where the construction season is relatively short. With the growth of the city and the demands put on our infrastructure, it is critical to aggressively pursue these projects. Sioux Falls is blessed with relatively good streets. Although construction can be challenging at times, the city attempts to minimize impacts to businesses, residents, and the traveling public. We request your patience during construction and attention in work zones for the safety of construction workers, other drivers and pedestrians.

How does the City manage and enforce street construction closure schedules?

The City uses best contracting and project management practices to coordinate work within the right-of-way:

  • Project management: experienced project engineers engage with staff, contractors and citizens to oversee maintenance of traffic plans for construction projects. They also oversee construction and can assess penalties based upon a contractor's traffic control.
  • Traffic management: experienced traffic engineers oversee traffic operations and review contractor proposals to keep traffic moving during closures.
  • Coordination: we routinely coordinate construction closure schedules with community activities, businesses, school districts, Sioux Area Metro, emergency responders and other stakeholders. When unanticipated construction closure traffic conflicts arise, Facebook and Twitter in addition to traditional media are used to get the word out quickly.
  • Financial incentives and disincentives: bonuses for reducing the expected impacts on traffic and fines for increasing the impacts are utilized on major projects.

Major cities do road construction at night, why doesn't the City of Sioux Falls do more night construction?

The City and contractors working for the City take advantage of nighttime construction when it is feasible. Nighttime construction can provide the benefit of reducing the impact on the traveling public and allowing construction workers more working space during times of low traffic. However, many projects are not good candidates for nighttime construction due to the following:

  • It is often safer for drivers and workers if crews complete some types of work during the day, when visibility is better. Studies have shown the proportion of alcohol-impaired drivers is five times higher at night, presenting additional concerns for worker safety.
  • Some materials, like certain types of pavement and pavement markings, are not as durable if they are installed overnight (temperature dependent.)
  • It takes a significant amount of time - sometimes hours - to safely set up and take down a work zone on a street. It can also take a significant number of hours to set up heavy construction equipment and supplies. When crews are limited to overnight work we increase the work hours spent on these activities and limit productive work hours. This extends the project timeline and increases project costs.
  • Sometimes crews can complete a huge amount of work with brief and intense traffic closures. For example, closing a highway ramp for an entire weekend may eliminate the need for weeks of overnight closures. This approach can be more convenient for drivers overall and allow crews to complete the job faster, deliver high quality results and lower costs.
  • Construction work can be very noisy, despite efforts to minimize noise. A majority of City projects are less than a block from homes or apartments. Night construction projects are not viewed favorably when neighbors are trying to sleep.
  • Often construction workers are paid a premium for working the night shift. As a result, night work can significantly increase costs.

What causes potholes and why do they always seem worse in the spring?

A number of factors may cause a pothole to form, but water is typically the culprit. When water penetrates the pavement through cracks and deformities in the asphalt, it can leave the base beneath the pavement soft and weak. In the spring of the year, many freeze/thaw cycles occur and water expands and contracts during these cycles. This frequent cycle causes damage to the cold and brittle pavements that exist in the spring. Vehicle loadings also contribute to the deterioration of streets.

Who do I call to report a pothole on my street?

We encourage residents to report issues residents encounter on City streets. Report a pothole online, by calling the Pothole Hotline (367-8002), or call the Street Division (367-8255). The problem will be investigated and addressed by the Street Division.

How do I inquire about when a construction project might occur on a specific street?

Submit your inquiry online or call the Engineering Division of Public Works at 367-8601.

Why do some street projects seem to be done more quickly than others?

There are many different types of projects used to maintain the condition of streets. We utilize surface treatments to keep "good streets in good condition" and also to rehabilitate or reconstruct streets in fair or poor condition. These projects can take a varying amount of time. For example, a slurry seal is applied to a street in relatively good condition to prolong its life. A slurry seal can be done on a street in just a few hours. When a street is at the end of its life, a reconstruction is the only option. Reconstruction projects typically include utility rehabilitation and replacement of the surfacing. Street reconstruction projects can take several months.

Why does the City do projects on streets in good condition while not repairing all of the streets in poor condition?

It is much more cost effective to address issues on streets in good condition, instead of waiting until they become bigger problems. Preventative projects, such as crack sealing and slurry seal, extend the life of the pavement and can be 1/20th the cost of an expensive reconstruction project. Once a street drops into the 'poor' category, the condition often does not change significantly and is expensive to fix. Conversely, streets in the good-to-fair category can decline more quickly without timely maintenance. Best practices in pavement management recommend the highest priority should to invest money on 'good' streets, while also having a plan to systematically upgrade the streets in the 'poor' category.

Do I live on a private street? Will the City do work on my private street?

A. Without hiring a surveyor to do research at the courthouse, the best way to determine whether or not a street is public or private is to reference the City Street Listing database. Most streets with the suffix 'Place' are private, but there are exceptions. Private streets are not built within public right-of-way, or to City design standards. The City is not responsible for maintenance, reconstruction or snow removal on private streets.

Why are crews cutting out 4 foot sections of concrete streets?

They are most likely performing a joint repair on the concrete roadway. As concrete ages, the joints deteriorate due to stresses caused by vehicle loadings, expansion and contraction and through use of winter deicing chemicals. By cutting out the joints in poor condition and replacing the concrete, the pavement life can be extended. This is a normal maintenance activity that can improve the ride and extend the pavement life, delaying a full reconstruction project. Joint repairs can be done at a much lower cost than reconstructing an entire street. One or more joint repair projects may be done in the expected life of a concrete segment.

What is a slurry seal?

A slurry seal is a low cost preventative maintenance treatment used to extend the life of a street in good condition and address minor defects. A slurry seal is a ½" layer applied on top of the existing asphalt surface by a paver and is a mixture of asphalt oil, small rock and other additives. The slurry seal process is very fast and streets are typically open to traffic within a few hours after application.

What is an asphalt mill & overlay?

An asphalt mill & overlay is a moderate cost street rehabilitation process that requires removal of the top layer (typically two inches) of a street by grinding action of a large milling machine. After the top layer is removed, repairs to any remaining defects are made before paving a new layer of asphalt pavement back. Mill & overlay projects typically include spot repairs to the curb and gutter, utilities and upgrades to ADA curb ramps.

Can a valley gutter (drainage way) be placed across my street in order to slow down traffic?

Valley gutters are used for facilitating drainage, not reducing speed. Speeding on streets is an enforcement issue and placing artificial speed reducers has not proven to be an effective means of reducing overall vehicular speeds. Drivers tend to try and make up for their "lost time" and increase their speeds anyway. The constant deceleration and acceleration of vehicles can have a negative impact as well.

Will the City pave my gravel alley?

Property owners adjacent to the alley can petition for their alley to be paved. If there is enough support and the project is approved by the City Council, the project can proceed. However, the costs for such a project are paid for by the adjoining properties. The costs include all the construction and engineering costs associated with the project and are split proportionally based on frontage.

How do I get my gravel street paved or improved to an urban section with sidewalk, lights, etc?

One option to get the street paved is to petition for the improvements. You must have at least 50% of the frontage ownership sign the petition in order for the petition to be considered valid. After approval from the City Council, the project can proceed. Property owners are responsible for costs associated with constructing local and collector streets. Costs associated with constructing arterial streets depend on whether the property benefits by having direct access to the arterial street.

A second option is to pave the street privately and agree to share the costs amongst the property owners. All owners must agree to the project and costs, including engineering, and plans must be approved by the city.

How many miles of streets are there in Sioux Falls?

There are approximately 900 centerline miles of streets maintained by the City. Approximately 84% are paved with asphalt, 14% paved with concrete, and 2% are unpaved (gravel) streets. The number of street centerline miles grows by about 10-15 miles per year on average.

Why is some sidewalk right behind the curb while most sidewalk is separated by a grass strip?

The standard location for sidewalk is 2 feet inside the public right-of-way. That typically leaves a grass "parking strip" between the sidewalk and the curb and is preferred for pedestrian safety. However, sometimes the amount of public right-of-way that is available is not enough for a grass parking strip. This occurs most often when arterial streets are widened. The impact to properties and the need for additional right-of-way can make a parking strip area impractical. When sidewalk is installed at the back-of-curb, it is typically 1-2 feet wider to provide a safer pedestrian experience.

Why are some streets concrete and others are asphalt?

There are many factors that go in to making that decision. Typically, local and collector streets are built with asphalt. Asphalt is a cost effective way of providing pavement on lower traffic volume streets. Higher volume streets can be designed with asphalt or concrete. City officials and developers make that decision based on a number of factors. Some of those factors include projected traffic volumes, future street expansion, truck volumes, initial costs, and future maintenance costs.

I am concerned that my street is going to be widened in the future. What will the impacts be to my property? Will I have to move? Will the City just "take" my property?

When a street widening project is identified to accommodate current and future traffic volumes, the City makes contact with property owners to discuss the project. The City requests input from drivers and property owners as a part of the public input process. During this process, possible design issues that may affect adjacent properties are identified. As the design progresses, more detail on property access will be available.

If it is determined that additional right-of-way is needed to construct the proposed improvements, the City will discuss the need for property with the owner. Independent land appraisers make appraisals of the property to establish a value. The City negotiates with the property owner to purchase only the property that is needed to construct the improvements. In some cases, the City may ask for the property to be dedicated at no cost for the benefit of the public.

Additional temporary easements may also be needed to blend private property into to the new street project. It is rare for a project to impact a property to the extent that a resident has to move.

Does the City maintain the Interstate System (I-29, I-90 and I-229)?

No. The South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) maintains the Interstate Highway System in South Dakota, including I-29, I-90, and I-229 and the associated interchanges.