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Rochester launches brand for rapid transit project with model of proposed station

Prototype near Rochester Public Library represents one of seven planned stops on proposed 2.6-mile route.

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Katie Adelman, left, director of content and communications with Rochester Downtown Alliance, and Karli McElroy, director of operations with RDA, take a look around a prototype of a bus station for the new Link bus rapid transit project Monday afternoon, Sept. 13, 2021, in downtown Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin
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A potential glimpse at Rochester's transit sits across the street from the Rochester Public Library.

The full-scale prototype of a bus rapid transit station for the planned project dubbed “Link” is intended to let community members "size up" the features of the seven planned stations.

“There are several features unique to bus rapid transit that are on display,” City Project Manager Jarrett Hubbard said in a statement announcing the demonstration. “The most striking is the platform size. At 80 feet in length, Link’s platform will allow the larger, 60-foot vehicles to open three doors simultaneously at a level boarding platform to allow for efficient boarding and alighting.”

RELATED: Rochester is seeking paid participants for transit planning

A group of community co-designers helped shape the design and features of Link’s seven stations through a months-long effort to make sure the stations represent the values of the Rochester community.

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The full-scale, branded station model is the proposed Mayo Civic Center stop along the future 2.6-mile route, which will extend west to a future transit hub where Mayo Clinic’s West Lot sits near Cascade Lake.

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City Council President Brooke Carlson speaks during an event to show off a prototype of a bus station for the new Link bus rapid transit project Monday afternoon, Sept. 13, 2021, in downtown Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

The Civic Center Station model is designed to be an immersive experience -- people can walk through it and learn more about the state’s first BRT line outside the Twin Cities. It also features a QR code linked to a survey for added input.

Getting a first glimpse of it Monday, one community co-designer, Sylwia Bujak Oliver, was caught off guard, even after seeing designs on paper and computer screens.

“It’s bigger than I thought,” she said.

The station includes a designated 8-foot by 20-foot shelter, in addition to the platform, which is designed with small individual stalls for people who want to wait outside of a potential crowd. While the model is not covered, Hubbard said the design calls for a roof across the entire platform, as well as snow melting equipment.

The stations are also expected to include off-board fare payment systems, electronic message boards and indicators for when a bus is approaching.

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City Council President Brooke Carlson speaks during an event to show off a prototype of a bus station for the new Link bus rapid transit project Monday afternoon, Sept. 13, 2021, in downtown Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

“This major public infrastructure project brings together many strategic priorities: smart growth by mitigating future traffic problems, sustainability through the use of electric transit vehicles and quality living through next-level service,” Rochester City Council President Brook Carlson said.

Patrick Seeb, DMC EDA executive director, said Monday’s launch of the Link brand matches the scope of the overall project.

“The bold look of the Link brand reflects the dynamism and interconnectedness of Rochester’s expanding portfolio of mobility options,” he said.

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Patrick Seeb, executive director of Destination Medical Center, speaks during an event to show off a prototype of a bus station for the new Link bus rapid transit project Monday afternoon, Sept. 13, 2021, in downtown Rochester. Joe Ahlquist / Post Bulletin

The City and DMC EDA are encouraging residents to take self-guided tours of the model through Oct. 1, and project teammates are giving guided tours to interested groups who contact rapidtransit@rochestermn.gov.

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The DMC annual meeting on Thursday will include a stop at the BRT station, and the city is hosting a Mobility Fair from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday on the Second Street Southeast block to highlight the model, as well as local mobility partners, including Lime Scooter, HourCar, Med City Mover and Arrive Rochester.

The Link BRT project, which could start service as early as 2025, has been submitted to the Federal Transit Agency to fund 49 percent of the $114 million anticipated cost. The remaining funds will come from state and local DMC transportation funding.

Randy Petersen joined the Post Bulletin in 2014 and became the local government reporter in 2017. An Elkton native, he's worked for a variety of Midwest papers as reporter, photographer and editor since graduating from Winona State University in 1996. Readers can reach Randy at 507-285-7709 or rpetersen@postbulletin.com.
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