Traffic was backed up at the 17th Avenue South-12th Street South intersection on the first day of school. Charis Prunty/Register file photo
• Project set for 2013
BROOKINGS – Are there more traffic signals in your future?
If you do any driving in the area of Mickelson Middle School, there will be.
The traffic bottleneck near the intersection of 17th Avenue South and 12th Street South got the city council’s attention this week.
The councilors took up the congestion question Tuesday during their new monthly study session.
Student dropoff traffic and residence-to-work commuters have made the area near the middle school one of the city’s worst for traffic gridlock – at least during peak traffic hours from about 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The intersection is also a pedestrian crossing for students and is staffed by a crossing guard, and that understandably causes some clogged streets.
City Engineer Jackie Lanning says the problem will be somewhat alleviated when traffic signals are installed at the intersection next year.
“They won’t stop the backups,” she said, “but it will make the traffic flow more orderly, and it might open up a little more space so homeowners along 17th can get out of their driveways more easily.”
Lanning said the city expects there will still be significant backups during peak hours.
Scheduled for construction in 2013 as a State Urban Surface Transportation Program project, the 28- and 34-foot signal arms will be placed at the four corners of 17th and 12th.
The signal project is currently under design by HDR of Sioux Falls.
The intersection is a choke point because in addition to middle school vehicles, it gets traffic from nearby Camelot Intermediate School.
According to the city’s master transportation study, “the locations of the schools result in nearly every driver traveling to either school passing through the all-way stop intersection at 12th Street South and 17th Avenue South.”
Residential development along 17th and new townhomes directly south of Mickelson have added to the traffic volume.
According to council meeting notes for discussion of the problem, “traffic at the intersection has been monitorerd and discussed by city staff ever since the middle school was built.”
Middle school officials have attempted to ease some of the congestion by changing traffic patterns through the school’s parking lot, even recently closing the south driveway access off 17th Avenue.
Contact Ken Curley at firstname.lastname@example.org.