The contract for reconstruction of 10 blocks of North Broadway Avenue was approved Monday as some concerns were also voiced.
“It adds an incredible amount of time to the commute,” Rochester City Council member Molly Dennis said of the work that will overlap reconstruction of the Elton Hills Drive bridge that has been reduced from four to two lanes since October 2018.
The Broadway reconstruction project is slated to start next month, with the federally funded bridge work set to start in mid-June. Both projects are slated to continue until at least November, with the Broadway work expected to resume for a portion of the 2022 construction season.
As a result, a potential detour from west of the bridge is mapped to head south to Seventh Street Northwest to cross Broadway, before heading back north near Silver Lake Park.
The contractor, Rochester-based Elcor Construction, plans to start work at 13th Street, near the bridge on Broadway, and head south at three-block increments.
Dennis said she’d like to see the contractor offered an incentive to open 13th Street by the time the Elton Hills Drive work starts, which would cut approximately 14 blocks out of the detour.
Rochester City Engineer Dillon Dombrovski said a level of uncertainty exists with the timing, based on weather and other factors, but he said Public Works staff are looking at options.
“That’s something we can talk through with the contractor,” he said of a potential incentive, adding that it would require the council to consider a contract change at a later date.
Other concerns raised revolved around compromises that resulted in the project approved Monday.
Council member Nick Campion, the only member on the council when the planning started in 2017, voiced disappointment in the process.
“I think we’ve lost some of the opportunity,” he said before being the sole council member to vote against the contract.
He said the changes, which include enhanced pedestrian and bike facilities, as well as public transit amenities, will increase safety in the corridor, but he believes the original plan would have been a safer option.
“I think we’ve had better designs in front of us,” he said of earlier plans, which would have closed some intersections between 13th Street and Civic Center Drive.
Council member Patrick Keane also acknowledged changes made as a compromise amid early discussions, but he voiced additional concerns about the $18.4 million construction cost, which will use $9.1 million in funds the city received from the state when it took control of the roadway.
He said the state funds are 35% of what was received and only addressed 6% of Broadway.
“We are way overspending early, and not protecting ourselves in the future for the rest of the road we took over,” he said, adding that he sees the need to move forward with the project.