Construction of a new Sioux Falls school raises concern for parents


Alexis Miller

The intersection of Highway 11 and 41st Street has become a main concern for the parents of soon-to-be middle school students.

Alexis Miller, Staff Writer

The construction of an additional middle school, Sioux Falls’ Ben Reifel, has led to concern amongst parents of the prospective students. When a traffic dilemma was brought to attention, the city was quick to address solutions to the dispute, but many are not satisfied with the proposed changes. 

“A group of parents is expressing concerns about their students crossing busy state Highway 11 and 41st Street to get to the campus when the school opens this fall. Their commute includes several busy lanes of traffic where the speed limit is well beyond a 15 mph school zone,” said Morgan Matzen, a writer for The Argus Leader. 

City officials originally addressed the parent’s worry with solutions such as a speed limit change, flashing traffic beacons and guards to monitor crossing both before and after school. But, these suggestions were not ‘enough’ in the eyes of the concerned citizens. 

“That does not change the fact that it’s six lanes of highway traffic,” said Kimberly Henderson in an interview with The Argus Leader. “There’s nothing they could put in place that would bring me comfort. I don’t want my kid walking across Highway 11.”

After further conversation, the school board directors have addressed a new plan which will ensure the greater safety of Ben Reifel’s students. Members of the PATH [Pedestrians Avoiding Traffic Hazards] committee plan to implement similar changes for the 2021-22 school year, but with slight adjustments to the original response. 

These changes will include establishing school zones around both 41st Street and Highway 11, the installation of flashing beacons near and around the school and speed advisory signs that will flash 20 minutes before and after school. 

But, in response, parents proposed the construction of an overhead walking bridge or an underground tunnel, as speed signs and flashing beacons may not be enough to stop a reckless driver. Although the school board has yet to address this option, they have furthered their safety actions by providing a shuttle bus that will bus students from the intersection of 41st and Manifold to the middle school, and vice versa after school. 

“Thank you to the school district for working so hard and coming up with a proposal,” said Sarah Sporrer in an interview with Dakota News Now. “I think we have asked for a safe option, the shuttle is more than likely a safe option for us.”