Making Progress on DMC & Transit

Probably my biggest frustration with DMC has been the inability to make important decision on how we are going to get people to and from downtown. We do not have and will never have the major street capacity to have people drive downtown to work in the same percentages we do now. Our contract with SRF has been quite expensive and I think we are far better building our own team capacity. I have been looking into certain elements of the SRF spending and it appears they are often acting as a very expensive middle man. It’s time to take the DMC infrastructure planning and infrastructure in house.

We kinda know what we need. A mix of remote parking and ride lots (even extending into our bedroom communities), a frequent transit line the runs through downtown and by St. Marys, and terminal points on either end where huge numbers of people can access transit and park if necessary. So far we really haven’t made the tough decisions. In general, the current thought is one end would be near Civic Center Dr / Highway 52 or the West Lot at Cascade Lake (my preference). The other end could be anywhere from the Fullerton Lot to K-Mart to just North of Graham Park. That said actual decisions are hard to come by. I would expect areas in and around these terminal transit centers to include substantial mixed income housing.

The big hold up has been what are we going to do about parking and frequent transit access. Building substantially more ramps downtown is not a viable option. A structured parking spot costs upwards of $50k now (I have requested data on Parking Ramp #6, adjacent to the Hilton). At that price the very same people clamoring for more parking are simultaneously unwilling to pay for it. Further and analysis was done to show what would be needed to park vehicles in the way we always have and the results was a full block sized parking structure 104 stories tall. Of course even then we couldn’t actually get to and from there at peak times.

Staff has prepared some criteria which I think is headed in the right direction. And not just because this is almost verbatim what I suggested for the location of the next city ramp.

  1. Accessibility (Ability to get to and from the site)
  2. Route Efficiency (Speed / Ridership, etc.)
  3. Economic Develop (On the site and/or along the transit route)
  4. Site Acquisition (Costs, Timing, etc.)
  5. Relationship to existing amenities. 

The one I would add is the efficiency of facility design given site constraints.

Not surprisingly there have been some private discussions where people are trying to steer the process to their own benefit. This needs to stop and those discussion need to take place in public.

In 2019 we will take some more major steps towards making biking & walking safer throughout downtown. This gives some people a healthy alternative, particularly for those living in and around downtown. It also makes it easier for people to get to and from transit stops.

One comment

  1. While I will certainly agree with the need for better/more parking options in the downtown and the availability of mass transit to get to downtown, the bigger consideration should be what about the small business owners and customers who need parking close to downtown? Although, with the way taxes are going in this town there will be no businesses left in the downtown area for guests to shop at (that’s another topic though).
    Right now shops or restaurants that are open into the evening have to have parking for their employees but can’t get it in the ramps where it is safer for them to park. This requires them to find other options, most of which include questionable late night bus rides or dark walks to poorly light parking lots. It is simply foolish to believe that it is possible to keep a large portion of vehicle traffic out of downtown and still have any functioning business area. Yes, pedestrian safety is and should be a concern but there are other ways to address that. Same for bicycles, its an education and enforcement issue all the way around. Pedestrians, bicyclists and drives MUST relearn to use common sense. Crossing against lights or in the middle of the block, not following traffic laws for BOTH bikes and cars are among the safety issues.
    What ever plan is decided upon MUST work to clear up the congestion on our streets. One way to do that would be to have central commuter station where ALL the transit and commuter buses dropped off passengers close to the downtown corridor and again near St. Mary’s. Where ever that spot is needs to have subway/skyway access to downtown and/or St. Mary’s AND MUST be off city streets. This is the biggest cause of congestion on 2nd street and it is ONLY on 2nd street in both locations. The future of downtown Rochester is at stake so a long term plan is needed that takes into consideration the expected growth of the city AND the hoped for growth of downtown.

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