So the city held a news conference Friday morning on the third floor balcony of Cherapa Place, overlooking the railroad switching yard, to give an update on the railroad relocation project and detail the new direction the project is taking.
But Mayor Mike Huether and Public Works Director Mark Cotter released few new project details.
Argus Leader reporter Jonathan Ellis wrote a story on Saturday detailing the new option for the city to buy the switchyard from BNSF. Ellis also had in Sunday’s paper part one of an Argus Leader investigation into the years-long process of trying to remove the switching yard from downtown.
Read this Sunday’s paper for part two of the investigation.
During Friday’s press conference Huether called the new option a “more prudent, common sense, reasonable solution,” for Sioux Falls.
“This project was on life support just a few months ago,” he said, adding that this option “breathed new life into it.”
“It looks good, it’s not a done deal folks, but it looks good,” Huether said.
Cotter said the project team will meet weekly from now on to develop a clear project plan. He hopes to hold news conferences to update the community every seven to 10 days. He said it’s too preliminary for a definite timeline for the project, and estimates the study could take 10-12 months.
An environmental assessment of the switchyard is going to be a key element in all of this, Cotter said. Some soil samples have already been taken, and Cotter said there’s low levels of contamination mostly because the land has been used for more than 100 years as a switchyard.
Nearby, though, the city dealt with high levels of contamination to build Phillips to the Falls, and the city is paying almost $20,000 for a study of Falls Park West to figure out how to go about building there because of previous contamination from when it was used as a landfill.