Friday, March 25, 2011

Is the Railroad Relocation Project Still a Top Priority for the Mayor?

On November 5, 2010, I wrote a blog titled Downtown Development/Railroad Relocation Project (City Business label).  I cited the following in part: 

In the Mayor’s first Ask the Mayor segment on Citilink/Channel 16 one of his priorities coming into office was the railroad relocation project. He said, “We believe strongly that we can get that accomplished pretty quickly and we need to.  It’s money sitting out there that can help us grow jobs, grow the economy as well as get us prepared for development in downtown Sioux Falls, so let’s take advantage of it.”

Mayor Huether made another comment on the first Ask the Mayor program about not knowing why former Mayor Munson hadn’t got this done but that it was a priority for him. He said it should have been done a few years ago because it will develop Sioux Falls, develop downtown and that we needed to take advantage of the dollars by the Federal government. He said he tasked Cotter and his team to get this done.

On November 15, 2010 the mayor and staff gave a presentation to the city council in which they laid out a plan and timeline whereby the tracks would be removed by 2014.

The architect from Denver recently said  the tracks won't be moved in time for the Event Center project. Has the timeline for this project changed from the target date of 2014 for the removal of the railroad tracks?

Where are those quarterly updates promised last year? It's the end of March 2011 and nothing yet from the administration. What is the status of that congressional earmark of $40 million? What about that Environmental Assessment?  It would be nice to hear a status update from the consultants and staff on this project soon.

This railroad relocation project impacts the parking criteria related to the site evaluation for an Event Center. Between 800 to 1200 parking spaces are in question because of these railroad tracks. There is speculation of some feet dragging on this project in order to cement the parking issue for an event center location.

A lot of questions about a project that the mayor said was his top priority when he began his term as mayor. I think the good folks of Sioux Falls need an explanation on this railroad relocation project.


  1. It's now $35 million, the Feds are in a "if you haven't spent it by now we are going to take it back" mode. We've been told there's an environmental study being done, but not much else. Why aren't we locking down & buying the new switchyard property? Why aren't we working through the ownership issues (Ellis & Eastern RR has first right of refusal on the track property downtown)since the Federal money is contingent on the City owning that land at the end of the removal project? We already have a glaring shortage of rail served industrial property (see TJN debate) so why isn't the SE Development Foundation all over this?

    Also, it's worth noting that the Construction Manager (Mortenson) we've hired for the Events Center specializes in moving complex railroad relocation issues forward, they're probably the best in the business in this regard, why aren't we considering engaging them to handle this project in unison with the Events Center like Lincoln, NE is doing?

    The $35 million probably won't cover the whole tab, but for the love of Pete let's get it started before we lose it.

  2. TiredOfTheMayorsSpinMarch 26, 2011 at 9:04 AM

    "we believe strongly that we can get that accomplished pretty quickly and we need to."

    Mayor talks a good game but where's the follow through. Seems to only work when it's for his game only.

  3. Why should we expect that he will follow through with this when there are several things on the table that he has not followed through . Once again, a great example of My Man Mike telling us what we wanted to hear and then getting nothing done. He talks to hear himself talk. I think the term"Mayors Listening Session" is a joke!!!!

  4. I remember having breakfast with Mayor Munson one morning and asking him one of his biggest frustrations. He said getting the enviormental impact study completed so the next step of 500 step process to relocate those tracks. So, when Huether says he doesn't know why Munson couldn't get it done, I say he worked on it for 6 of 8 years. This Mayor didn't hear a thing that was being told to him in the transistion meeting. Take a crowbar and go move them yourself, Mayor.

  5. For someone who spent so much time in City government Jennifer, you sure have forgotten a lot since you left. What's worse is that you've decided to not only attack a change in administration but the people who once thought of you as a friend at City Hall.

  6. No, she is just free to speak the truth now that she no longer has to shut up and play the game!!!

  7. Sounds like someone in city government needs to quit taking things so personally. I don't see many if any posts around here attacking staff. The mayor said he would deliver a quarterly update on this project and no one has followed through. It is a fair criticism. This blog is a watchdog written by someone who cares enough to speak up. The city employees ought to be thanking her, not whining as they fear for their jobs.

  8. Who defines friendship as "toe the line, look the other way and we're good"?

  9. I wish those at City Hall would just do their job and quit belly aching. Oh poor us, someone is writing about us again. Boo Hoo. Get to work!