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City lands funds for DMC-related circulator effort

December 20, 2018

Rochester is receiving a federal boost for a proposed downtown transit circulator.

The Federal Transit Administration announced Tuesday the city will receive $765,000 as part of $16.6 million to 20 organizations throughout the country.

The federal grants are made possible through the FTA’s pilot program for transit-oriented development planning, which seeks to support comprehensive planning projects that improve access to public transportation.

Rochester’s proposed circulator would involve creating a 3.5-mile exclusive route for bus rapid transit to serve downtown.

The FTA funds will support a $1.1 million planning project focused on the Second Street Southwest Downtown Transit Circulator route which connects a future large parking facility — known as Mobility Hub A — in northwest Rochester, to the Destination Medical Center district, and which continues on to serve a second planned parking facility — known as Mobility Hub B — in southeast Rochester.

Potential locations of the new parking facilities are still being narrowed down, and the city has committed to a local match of $337,000 in cash, staff time and other resources to the multi-year planning effort.

“This grant will allow us to perform necessary refinements to transit circulator recommendations adopted by the Rochester City Council and the DMCC board this summer, specifically examining the alignment in the context of broader economic development opportunities, connectivity to other transportation modes, and access for all users,” Rochester Community Development Director Cindy Steinhauser said.

Plans for the proposed bus rapid transit system, which is similar to light rail with the use of rubber-tired buses, stems from the Destination Medical Center-related transit studies.

The studies point to a need to expand transportation options into the downtown to help reduce the threat of traffic congestion as the workforce grows and more visitors are attracted to the city.

“The circulator is one piece of a compressive transit system which meets the diverse needs of our community, businesses, and visitors,” Steinhauser said. “We appreciate the confidence and investment from the FTA for this important project that will help transform Rochester and serve as a national model for how to create vibrant, livable communities.”

The studies go hand-in-hand with Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department efforts to create transit-oriented development and infill/redevelopment policies, which are seen as essential components for reducing downtown vehicular traffic.

Among proposed policies is the creation of two new zoning districts: a “TOD” district and a “R2x” district, which are intended to promote redevelopment, around the downtown, largely in areas that could be served by the proposed bus rapid transit circulator.

The proposed rezoning would affect a section of properties located along North and South Broadway, Second Street Southwest and Fourth Street Southeast, as well as portions of East Side Pioneers, Historic Southwest, Kutzky Park, Lowertown, Slatterly Park, and Sunnyside neighborhoods.

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