Rochester city leaders take closer look at unsafe sidewalks

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) – Are downtown Rochester sidewalks in need of a makeover? The city’s Public Works Department seems to think so. City leaders tackled that question Monday afternoon.

The problem area in question is the decorative brick laid sidewalk work on South Broadway, which dates back to 1987.

According to the Public Works Department, folks are two and-a-half times more likely to fall along those sidewalks than anywhere else in the city.

With that street section of Broadway not set for a reconstruct until 2037, Public Works wants to do an upgrade as soon as possible – and would cost $2.6 million to completely remodel the sidewalk.

However, the project could be taken in another direction, such as putting in heated sidewalks, which would bump up the cost to nearly $4 million.

Rochester resident Bucky Beeman walks South Broadway about three to four times a week. While he’s never had issues himself, he does acknowledge that there are some problem areas.

“There’s definitely some areas that need attention, there is no doubt,” Beeman said. “There’s bricks getting lose. Areas you maybe need to pay more attention than others, and then there’s newer areas that I would say are just less of an issue.”

Beeman adds that he doesn’t see a need to completely remodel the walkways, but does see a need to fix up some of the bricks causing problems.

City leaders agree that maintenance and safety come before any new sidewalk project.

“Its an exciting time to talk about an issue that’s both kind of real to all of us,” Rochester City Council member Nick Campion said. “We’ve seen the issue with people using wheelchairs or crutches walking through the downtown getting stuck, but also look at what kind of what that looks like as an impact for our overall destination medical center strategy.”

Campion adds that a bigger project, like the heated sidewalks, would need to appropriately mesh with other Destination Medical Center projects and it could be a while until we see a project like that implemented downtown.

So for now, the city will make spot repairs as needed.

Beret Leone

Beret Leone

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