Broadway: The next critical Public Works Project

Here is a study of the broadway corridor:

Broadway Study Detail

The situation is that the city inherited about 6 miles of roadway from MnDot and is now planning for the future. My goal is to have vibrant multi-use corridor that spurs intense redevelopment along its entire length. Today Broadway is mediocre for cars and terrible for transit, bikes, and pedestrians. Downtown, Broadway serves to divide the city into a prosperous side and a lesser side.

I would like to see a future Broadway constructed with generous pedestrian spaces, great transit nodes, and a functional cycle track running the length of the roadway. The cost of the reconstruction is substantial, perhaps as much as $85 million to do it right. While Broadway likely requires 4 travel lanes at peak times my hope would be that the outside travel lanes can become on street parking the other 21 hours a day.

The opportunity is great as there is capacity for hundreds of millions if not billions in redevelopment along Broadway. The trick is how do you pay for something like this? We can’t even approach basic maintenance on our roadways today. We can also spread the length of reconstruction over time, but I have a strong preference to address it over a shorter period of time, and do it in concrete to reduce maintenance costs.

Here is how I would do it:

  1. MnDot dollars – The city received $25 million when we took over Broadway, most of those dollars remain in a fund.
  2. State Bonding –  For trail connections. The corridor has 3 serious unsafe connections. At Silver Lake and Broadway (Death Triangle), Connecting Soldiers Field and Graham Park, and a route that somehow connects across US 52 to the south.
  3. Federal / State Transit Dollars – To create and enhance high frequency transit nodes & transfer points along Broadway.
  4. 2012 Sales Tax – For landscaping and public art enhancements similar to the Uptown Project.
  5. Assessments – Typically there is a per foot assessment for properties along a reconstructed roadway.
  6. Value Capture District – This would be the first time this was ever done in Rochester.

Basically a value capture district places a fee on properties that stand to benefit from a project. This requires state authorization, but is being used more and more across the country. In the case of Broadway, we might set a fee for each square foot of residential, commercial, office space within 1/4 mile of the project. We could also change zoning along that stretch to encourage higher densities that are transit oriented and walkable. The idea is that by the end of bond repayments significant growth has occurred and is helping to repay the debt.

I’m not married to they approach, but we need to think about how we fund these projects.


One comment

  1. This has become one of the worst and most frustrating streets in Rochester for pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles. In the approximately 3/4 mile between 6th St. SW and Civic Center Drive, the are NINE stoplights. Every single interchange has a stoplight bringing traffic to a crawl. Any plan that reduces the confluence of walkers, cyclists, and drivers sharing the same space….optimizing safety and transit time for all, would be greatly welcomed.

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