- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The Sioux Falls metro area has grown by thousands of working commuters since 2005, but residents haven’t seen a huge uptick in the average time it takes them to get to their jobs.

The Associated Press analyzed decades of travel and population data and found many regions across the U.S. struggling with traffic congestion that may only worsen. But residents in South Dakota’s main population center have commute times shorter than the national average of nearly 26 minutes.

Even as the number of Sioux Falls working commuters has grown to at least 130,000 in 2013 from at least 109,000 in 2005, the average time it takes to get to work in the metro area has only increased slightly, U.S. Census Bureau data show.

It took workers an average of at most 17.9 minutes to travel to their jobs in 2005. That commute had climbed to an average of at most 19.5 minutes in 2013, the latest figures available.

“I’m sorry to smile,” Sioux Falls Mayor Mike Huether said with a laugh. “I’ve lived outside of Sioux falls, so I’ve actually experienced some real … congestion.”

Huether said the city wants to make sure commuters move quickly without congestion on the road. The city is adding more turning lanes and improving street light technology, as well as taking other steps, to keep travel times down, he said.

“Reality is you can get anywhere in our town in 20 minutes or less,” Huether said, but he added that the city is trying to stay one step ahead of its rapid population growth.

Another area of growth in the Sioux Falls metro area is in public transit commute times for people heading to work, jumping sharply to an average 45 minutes in 2013. Huether said he’s trying to educate the city council and the people of Sioux Falls that public transit is an effective way to manage transportation needs.

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