Bus rapid transit (copy)

A bus rapid transit system operates in St. Paul. (SRF Consulting)

Options for a downtown circulator could be narrowed next week.

The Rochester City Council and Destination Medical Center Corp. Board are slated to review a proposal to create a bus rapid transit system to connect a pair of planned transit hubs, using a Broadway Avenue route.

While the location of a hub on Second Street Southwest has been established at what is known as the Mayo Clinic West Lot, the exact location of a planned hub southeast of downtown remains undetermined.

The northern portion of Graham Park and the former Seneca Foods canning facility are being considered as likely locations. Potential layouts include plans for housing and retail spaces.

Olmsted County recently purchased the former Seneca site for $5.6 million, and county commissioners have stated they’d prefer a transit hub be constructed in that location.

Regardless of where the hub will be located, a final circulator route is being recommended to include Broadway Avenue, rather that Third Street Southeast.

If the City Council and DMCC board agree, the circulator system would be designed with designated buses traveling between the two hubs.

In one direction, the system would leave the Second Street Southwest hub and travel east to Broadway, where it would turn south to head to the southeast hub. Multiple buses would likely be traveling in each direction throughout the day to ensure frequent visits to designated stops for dropping off and picking up riders.

The system, known as bus rapid transit, was compared to the potential for a railed circulator as part of the planning efforts in recent months.

The railed option was expected to cost at least $355.9 million, while the bus rapid transit system would cost an estimated $98.6 million.

In recent months, City Council members, along with other city and DMC Economic Development Agency representatives, have toured a variety of transit systems. Most recently, council members Patrick Keane, Shaun Palmer and Michael Wojcik went to Indianapolis to see the nation’s newest bus rapid transit system, which operates much like light rail on rubber tires.

On Monday. City Council members will compare notes while also hearing from local staff and SRF Consulting planners, who have been working on the project. The project could be eligible for federal transit funding to cover half the cost. The meeting is set for 3:30 p.m. in council chambers of the city-county Government Center.

The DMCC board is expected to discuss the recommendation during its meeting Thursday in the Mayo Civic Center. That meeting will start after some of the board members take a 9:30 a.m. trolley tour of the proposed circulator route.

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