The City of Rochester and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) District 6 initiated the Northern Rochester Transportation Study (NRTS). The NRTS focused on identifying and analyzing needed transportation improvements in an area bound by 75th Street NW on the north, 55th Street NW on the south, 50th Avenue NW on the west, and 18th Avenue NW on the east.
The NRTS is a follow-up to a transportation study conducted in 2005-2006, which focused on a similar area. The 2005-2006 Study was aimed at identifying issues and needs within the 55th Street NW interchange area and the 65th Street NW growth area to develop appropriate transportation improvements to address the existing capacity and congestion problems at the 55th Street interchange as well as future traffic needs.
The 2005-2006 Study involved an extensive alternative evaluation process and traffic operations analysis of improvements to the 55th Street interchange and surrounding area. The Study, while not formally completed due to funding shortfalls, did show that widening 55th Street NW to six-lanes through the interchange area along with other local roadway connectivity improvements (such as frontage/backage roads) did not fully resolve the capacity and levels of service problems in the long term.
The continued growth within the northern Rochester area and specific development pressure within the 65th Street NW/Highway 52 vicinity prompted the City of Rochester and Mn/DOT District 6 to form a partnership to proactively address these transportation issues and needs. The NRTS Partnership has agreed the scope of the new NRTS study will look at a phased approach to improvements that:
- Update valuable information gathered in the previous 2005-2006 Study
- Address the immediate transportation needs, such as 55th Street interchange congestion relief and congestion relief on local roads
- Identify and analyze improvements needed in the vicinity of 65th Street, including evaluation of a new interchange at 65th Street/Highway 52
- Address the long-range transportation goals (year 2035) by identifying the ultimate transportation network roadway plan for the area and preparing a staged implementation schedule.
The purpose of identifying the ultimate transportation roadway plan for this area now is to facilitate the agencies’ ability to preserve right-of-way and secure funding for the future phased implementation of the recommended improvements.
The NRTS expanded upon the 2005-2006 Study by assessing improvements needed at 65th Street NW, e.g., widening 65th Street west of Highway 52 and providing new interchange access to Highway 52 at 65th Street NW. The recommended improvements for the 65th Street area were coordinated with improvements at the 55th Street interchange and improved local roadway connectivity, along with various alternatives for protecting the safety and capacity of Highway 52 to develop a series of phased network transportation improvements projects to address the long range issues and needs surrounding the 55th Street NW interchange and the 65th Street NW growth area.
The various project phases of NRTS improvements include assessment of social, environmental, and economic impacts of the various alternatives to select roadway system improvements that minimize impacts while meeting the identified public transportation system needs. Public and agency involvement will be solicited to provide input regarding project impacts.