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Preparing for construction after plan approved for North Broadway Avenue Project

While business owners on the stretch are happy, some council members are concerned about safety.

Posted: Jun 5, 2018 10:52 PM

ROCHESTER, Minn. - Local businesses and council members are preparing for lengthy road construction to begin on North Broadway Avenue in 2019.

This comes after a 4-3 vote at Monday night's city council meeting approved option 2C for the North Broadway Avenue Project. A project that will transform the North Broadway Avenue Corridor, from Civic Center Drive to 13th Street NW, into the gateway to downtown Rochester.

"It was a sense of accomplishment and moving a mountain," Penny Bracken, one business owners, said.

Bracken owns Kismet Consignment Store, a business that's been along North Broadway for 15 years. She said the decision was a win for the more than 50 businesses in the corridor.

"For our small businesses on this corridor, it means accessibility," Bracken said. "Each intersection will remain open to left-hand turns, and for us it equates to dollars and cents."

Option 2C means putting medians in place between intersections, but not through them. This will leave the intersections open, a safety concern for some like Councilman Michael Wojcik, who represents Ward 2.

"This is going to be less safe for everyone," Wojcik said. "However, it's going to be substantially safer than what is there today."

Some of the plan's safety improvements include protected bike ways, ADA-accessible crosswalks, and wider sidewalks.

It's a plan Wojcik says they'll have to keep a close eye on.

"Ultimately, what we have to do is we're putting in place metrics so that when something bad does happen, we can at least make the changes at that point," Wojcik said. "But it's unfortunate that we're going that route."

Business owners like Bracken said it's a step that will move the project in the right direction.

"I'm looking forward to when we can look back at the entire process, and be happy with what we created," Bracken said, "because Rochester is moving forward and our businesses want to move forward with Rochester."

Moving forward, Bracken plans to keep her customers informed once construction begins next year.

"Our first step is to survive two years of construction, and work with the city, work with media to keep people coming down to North Broadway and accessing our buildings any way they can," Bracken said.

The project has been in the works for a while. The Rochester City Council vote from Monday night follows the Broadway Avenue Corridor Study, which was completed in 2015 and set the stage for the project.

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