Our regional transportation network is something we can be proud of and is an important link in economic development for our area. State and county transportation departments pump millions of dollars into the economy and they provide the superior infrastructure that helps keep our region attractive to growing companies and new employees.
This year, the South Dakota Department of Transportation will spend $94 million in the Sioux Falls area, including record-setting road and bridge projects. The Lincoln County Highway Department has budgeted $8.2 million for the 2018 construction season to make 53 miles of roads smoother, safer and stronger, along with three bridge projects. In Minnehaha County, 68 miles of road are slated for improvement with chip sealing and microsurfacing, along with major road projects that will upgrade the safety of daily travel for thousands, all with a budget of $12.28 million. That’s a total of $114.5 million dollars that will be added to our regional economy this summer and fall.
Those dollars fuel our economy through payrolls, purchases of supplies and equipment and payments to local subcontractors. Our local retail businesses and construction companies benefit—as does local government through tax revenues. That $114.5 million is not just a one-time jolt to our regional economy, but represents the annual budgets of our highway departments. The amount spent annually may go up or down slightly from year to year, but the allocations for road and bridge maintenance, repair and construction are annual expenses, and benefit our economy every year.
That maintenance and construction of strong, safe bridges that bear the weight of commercial traffic and smooth, well-maintained roads that get people where they want to go boost our regional development as the visible signs of our infrastructure priorities. Corporate executives and families considering our area notice the dollars we spend on roads and infrastructure when making their decisions.
The occasional traffic slowdowns or detours you may encounter this construction season are signs of progress. Those projects are vital elements in building our communities and our regional economy.
By Nick Fosheim, Executive Director, Lincoln and Minnehaha County Economic Development Associations
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