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Major Rochester roadway is ready for a makeover

Janice Bitters//November 4, 2015

Major Rochester roadway is ready for a makeover

Janice Bitters//November 4, 2015

The Rochester City Council last week heard a long-term plan to reshape the north and south ends of Broadway Avenue — one of the busiest corridors in the city — to make it more pedestrian, bicycle and transit friendly.

The four-lane roadway, which runs north-south through the city, currently sees between 20,000 to 28,000 cars per day and has intersections that need safety and congestion-preventing improvements, said George Calebaugh, traffic engineer at the city of Rochester.

“In comparison, most city residential streets get maybe 500 to 600 cars a day,” he said, underlining the importance of the Broadway corridor.

The roadway also doesn’t offer protected bike lanes, and many segments do not include sidewalks for pedestrians. Planners want to add those features as part of its complete streets initiative, which looks at multimodal transportation options as roads are repaired or reconstructed, said Stevan Kvenvold, city administrator for the city of Rochester.

Though city staff favors a 15-year, $87 million plan, funding is still a question and could hold up implementation, said Doug Nelson, manager of engineering at the city of Rochester.

Two years ago, Rochester received $26 million from the Minnesota Department of Transportation to assist with repairs and maintenance on Broadway Avenue, after MnDOT turned ownership of the corridor over to the city of Rochester. Previously, the roadway was known as trunk highway 63.

Now the city will look to several funding sources to bridge the gap, including the state and potential assessments to property owners along the corridor, Nelson said.

The first of six implementation phases will focus on adding a traffic light at Third Avenue Southeast and redesigning the corridor from Civic Center Drive to 13th Street. Design planning for the segment is expected to begin in 2016 and be implemented by 2018. Residents and business owners will have an opportunity to give feedback during that process, Nelson said.

The city has seen double-digit population growth in the past three to four years, Kvenvold said, a rate that likely won’t slow as Rochester plans a comprehensive downtown build-out that will redefine the area over the next two decades.

According to the recently released Broadway Corridor Study, planners expect the corridor will need to accommodate more public transit trips over the next 25 years as the population grows.

“This is all traffic calming, safety for different modes of transportation and a better aesthetic,” Kvenvold said. “It’s not a very attractive roadway. It works — it moves traffic — but it isn’t very pedestrian friendly.”

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