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Street talk continues with planning effort

Michael Wojcik

As the Rochester City Council gave a nod of approval Monday for two of three sections in the city’s proposed comprehensive plan update, the issue of street planning remained a point of contention.

In reviewing a portion of the plan’s third section, Council Member Ed Hruska suggested cutting a call for continued to use the city’s Complete Streets policy, which seeks to prioritize all modes of transportation in street design.

Sandi Goslee, principal planner with the Rochester-Olmsted Planning Department, said the intent is to implement something cited earlier in the plan.

"The concepts are all covered in section 2," she said. "It’s just not to the point of recommending using them."

As an alternative, Hruska suggested including language to say the city would not eliminate existing vehicle lanes to build new bike lanes.


"If we put that in here, it would balance it out a little bit," he said.

Council Member Michael Wojcik called the proposal a "non-starter" but pointed to a potential compromise.

"If you made a more generalized statement about the prime roadways that move people in and out of the key areas, I would probably agree with you that in pretty much all circumstances we wouldn’t want to reduce things there," he said, noting changes to some other streets make sense.

Council Member Nick Campion also pitched a possible option to provide middle ground.

"We always caveat everything we’re doing with bike infrastructure with the clause ‘as appropriate,’ so what if we say ‘maintaining drive lanes as appropriate,’" he said. "We add that caveat all over the place to allow staff to come back to us with what’s appropriate."

Goslee said such concerns are part of the existing proposal.

"The whole thing about the Complete Streets policy is evaluating what things are appropriate on what roads," Gosslee said, noting studies could show it’s not appropriate to narrow streets.

Council Member Mark Hickey said it’s not the policy that has him concerned. Rather, he cited past practices.


"The actual Complete Streets policy is fine. It’s how we are executing it," he said, voicing concerns that streets are too often "choked down."

In the end, the council opted to keep the proposed language, but did tweak other areas of the plan to get it ready for next week’s council meeting, where a public hearing on the proposed plan will continue.

Goslee said she expects to send a revised copy of the plan’s second section to the council this week.

In looking ahead to a potential council vote on the plan, Hruska said he’s impressed by the work done by planning staff.

"We’re not going to get everyone to agree on all of it," he said. "That’s part of the challenge."

The updated plan requires approval from at least five council members to be adopted.

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