How can the city reduce downtown traffic congestion?
Recent transportation studies related to Destination Medical Center point to a need to reduce peak-period congestion into downtown and on downtown streets.
We asked Rochester City Council candidates from Wards 1 and 3 what, if anything, they would suggest the council do to reduce downtown traffic impacts.
Here’s how they responded:
We are seeing more congestion downtown and it will increase as Rochester continues to grow. We will be facing increased pedestrian traffic, parking needs and vehicles in and out of downtown.
While no one solution fits all, one consideration is adaptive traffic signals as opposed to the conventional time-of-day signal-timing plan. Adaptive technology moves vehicles in a smarter way by reacting to what’s happening on the road and communicating with one another. Estimated cost can be around $30,000 to $40,000 per intersection, but the city can choose the heaviest traveled intersections and roadways.
Adaptive technology is also rich with data, which allows city planners to better plan future projects. Sioux Falls began implementing adaptive signal technology in 2014 and has had tremendous results.
To reduce traffic congestion during the morning rush hours, I would suggest the city and downtown businesses work together to encourage more employees to use public transportation.
I work downtown and often hear people say public transportation isn’t reliable enough to get to work on time and still drop-off and pick-up kids from daycare. Research is needed to ensure public transportation is a viable option for those working throughout Rochester.
Also, we must consider that many employees working in Rochester commute. The city council must work with surrounding cities to find a solution for all who work in Rochester. Goals include:
• More bus routes.
• Run more frequent hours throughout the day.
• More park-and-ride in neighborhoods.
• Payroll deduction for bus passes.
In the first place, nothing is perfect. Honest Bike Shop is downtown and customers can always get to us and find parking available.
I have no problem dropping someone off at the front door of Mayo Clinic anytime. I currently have a little trouble around construction zones, but if we want growth, we have to deal with it.
The issue is Mayo employees and parking. Mayo has done an excellent job providing parking ramps, lots and shuttles, subsidizing bus fares and encouraging employees to walk, bike or ride a bus.
We should work with Mayo to see that more ramps are erected and kept and encourage Mayo’s continued use of the aforementioned and of more rapid and limited-stop bus service from outlying areas.
I support a proactive approach to addressing peak-period congestion in the downtown core and will work with city staff and traffic experts to ensure we address it before it becomes a major problem. Downtown streets are reaching their rush-hour capacity, and providing alternative, affordable and convenient transporting options is the right solution. Currently, 83 percent of the people (patients, shoppers, workers, etc.) coming into downtown drive, and 90 percent are daily workforce, single-passenger commuters looking for parking.
Our transportation options are not working well enough and cannot scale with projected growth. The best alternatives are improved park-and-ride, better access to city rapid transit and safer alternatives for pedestrians and bicyclists. This will address not only peak congestion, but our overall transportation issues, including parking shortages.
Reductions in peak-period congestion are possible, as outlined in our recently approved comprehensive plan. There is no single solution to congestion, but these are a few steps to real, noticeable reductions:
• Make public transit a viable option. Increase service areas, efficiency and ride attractiveness while reducing costs through increased ridership.
• Coordinate parking with our community partners. The city’s transit and parking strategies should dovetail with our major employers.
• Encourage housing development downtown. People who live near their work don’t cause congestion.
The obvious perfect solution is to utilize our great public transit system and shuttles, but these only work for certain people.
I’d suggest working with downtown businesses to stagger work hours, so everyone isn’t leaving at once. I’m told Mayo Clinic and Saint Marys have more than 1,500 private contractors with shifts often starting at 7:30 a.m. and ending at 4 p.m. If they started at 7 and ended at 3:30, many people would leave downtown before it gets congested.
Another option is educating people about alternate routes. I tested this theory on a trip to Ye Olde Butcher Shoppe. It took me less time by using Third Avenue to get to Seventh Street, instead of going straight through downtown.
Ward 5 candidates' responses to this question will be published ______