Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) -  The Rochester City Council is being asked to be more mindful of pedestrians when construction work begins on future downtown projects.

Many projects impact motor and foot traffic when they close streets and sidewalks for space needed by contractors for staging and workspace. Increased construction work in the downtown in recent years has led to complaints about the loss of pedestrian walkways and access to existing businesses.

One option the council will be asked to consider is charging contractors a fee to discourage the use of public space, especially for extended periods. Current policy requires contractors to pay small permit fees and the loss of parking revenue.

The city solicited input from downtown stakeholders and among those responding was the Rochester Downtown Alliance, which included this information:

“Survey data supports that construction practices are impacting user experience downtown. The RDA recently conducted a “Downtown Perception Survey” through the research firm Morris Leatherman, and learned the following: Construction site management was rated as 42% Fair, the second worst option, with choices ranging from Excellent, Good, Fair, Poor. The primary method of travel while downtown was Walking Outside (at 57%), meaning that those journeys are often impacted by construction."

The RDA also included praise for one downtown project:

”Heart of the City’s “Business-Forward” construction planning, which retains pedestrian walkways and access to businesses throughout the process, was met with surprise and appreciation from the business community, who expected storefront access to be severely impacted based on previous construction projects in Rochester. Its execution is clean, safe, and allows clear pedestrian circulation around projects.”

Also offering input was the DMC’s Economic Development Agency:

“We favor a Rochester standard that elevates the interests of existing businesses and residents by ensuring the pedestrian walkways are maintained throughout construction and that contractors are incentivized to reduce the amount of time streets are reduced or closed.”

If the council does favor some changes to the current policy, it will also have to decide if they should apply to other parts of the city.

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