I would like you to consider a number: 45,000. Olmsted County Planning Director Phil Wheeler recently said this is likely the most accurate number of people who currently commute to Rochester from beyond our city limits for work and play. Every. Single. Day.
As Destination Medical Center grows into a reality, its effects will clearly be felt beyond the Rochester area. Fortunately, the crafters of the DMC legislation recognize this, and have wisely chosen to dedicate a portion of the available funds for local and regional transportation and transit projects. Ensuring that our roads, bridges, bike and pedestrian trails are adequately prepared to safely and efficiently handle the ever increasing amount of traffic heading our way will be crucial to DMC’s success.
The changes coming to Rochester are part of a tremendous public/private partnership (P3), on a scale not seen in Minnesota ever before. This sort of investment presents us with both an example and an opportunity to replicate that kind of partnership throughout the whole thread of Rochester and southeast Minnesota.
When it comes to transit, there are numerous ways that this sort of partnership is already in place. All five area park & rides currently utilize privately owned parking lots, giving patrons of these services immediate and convenient access to groceries, dining, banking and other essential goods and services. Local businesses also currently perform a large variety of area transit services. Rochester City Lines, Go Rochester Direct and R&S Transport are just a few locally owned and operated companies providing a broad range of services that benefit from a high quality, connected and efficient transportation network.
Continuing to support and develop these kinds of services that employ hundreds of our friends, family members and neighbors will allow Rochester to continue to see healthy growth. Bike share programs like Nice Ride MN (which was spearheaded by current Minneapolis Mayor and DMC Board nominee R.T. Rybak) also replicate the P3 model, and could be a good fit for Rochester.
Public brainstorming sessions like the ones seen most recently downtown at Thursdays on First & 3rd are tremendous and valuable opportunities, especially for local business owners and entrepreneurs who can use these sessions to learn about what our growing community values and desires. I encourage everyone to continue making your voice heard as we strive together to make our City and region a great place that is easy to access and enjoy.
Share your thoughts on how we can enhance transportation in the region through the comments below.
Christian Holter is the Community Liaison for Rochester City Lines.