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$1.8 billion in infrastructure planned with DMC

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In the next two decades, Rochester leaders will face the largest public infrastructure decisions in the city's history. In tandem with the Destination Medical Center initiative, about $1.8 billion in infrastructure projects are on the city's near horizon.

Of the estimated $1.8 billion in infrastructure identified in the DMC Development Plan, about $720 million is targeted to create 16,000 new structure parking spaces; $348 million is envisioned to create a downtown transit circulator; and $112 million is planned for other transit, streets and city loop improvements, according to city documents.

Assistant City Administrator Gary Neumann laid out the projects and the onerous local and federal planning efforts that would be required in a report to the DMC Corporation Board of Directors at a Monday meeting.

The DMCC board will, in partnership with the city and Olmsted County, be responsible for aligning these infrastructure projects with available revenues. State General Infrastructure Aid included in DMC legislation will provide $327 million, to be matched with $128 million in local contributions.

Private funds will be responsible for many of the expenditures included in the whopping $1.8 billion vision, Neumann said.

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Even including private, state and federal funds, local contributions will represent historic infrastructure investments in the city.

"Obviously with these sizes of expenditures, these are about the largest public infrastructure decisions that will be faced by the city of Rochester," Neumann said Monday.

In the past 30 years, the city's largest infrastructure expenditures have been the Highway 52 reconstruction at $200 million and the city's flood control improvements at $125 million.

The city in October contracted SRF Consulting as its Transportation and Infrastructure Program Management Consultant and agreed to a fee of $695,661 for services in 2015 and 2016, paid from city and county DMC sources.

The consultant's work so far has coordinate the planning work that must occur before the city and DMCC can move forward on infrastructure projects, said Ken Holte, an SRF principal.

SRF in early March gathered seven other engineering firms — the same firms that had applied to be the city's infrastructure program manager — for a planning meeting that focused on coordinating all key components of the city's infrastructure goals.

The meeting was a "huge milestone" in the work so far, Holte said.

Based on feedback from the planning session, SRF issued a request for statements of qualifications from firms that could engage in Rochester's infrastructure projects. Seven firms had applied by the end of March.

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SRF and the city have met as recently as last week to discuss selection of firms for a handful of studies. Core areas include: transportation management; parking; transit; streets; and bike and pedestrian facilities.

The studies are expected to result in assessments of operation, engineering and financial aspects of the infrastructure projects; public engagement; environmental assessments; and organizational issues, Holte explained Monday.

"We think we've got an opportunity now to move forward into the scoping and the budgeting to get these studies rolling and get the consultants rolling and underway," Holte said.

DMCC board member Susan Rani asked how the process is working to meet women- and minority-owned business participation requirements, mandated by DMC legislation.

"All of the contractors that get some of this work, and there are a lot of large firms, they all will all be required to meet the women and minority participation guidelines, both on the contractor basis and on the employment basis," Neumann replied.

Rani pushed for more inclusion of women and minority businesses early in the planning processes, not as an "add-on" to be considered later in the process.

"I think it should be viewed holistically that quality, schedule and budget and (women and minority business) participation are all key factors, equal key factors, to our success," she said.

Neumann said he and city staff would set up a meeting to discuss women and minority business participation in more detail.

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Major infrastructure projects, like a downtown transit circulator, could still be years away; projects that receive federal funding typically undergo a process that lasts five or more years, according to a graphic Holte showed.

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