"When the Inner Loop was put in, the whole idea was to make it easy to get in and out of downtown in an automobile. I don’t want to make it easy. I want this to be the kind of place that you appreciate living in.”
Rochester Mayor Tom Richards
Today's Inner Loop
The Inner Loop Expressway surrounds the City of Rochester’s Central Business District, cutting off the downtown area from adjacent vibrant and densely-populated neighborhoods. This inefficient, sunken expressway is underutilized by vehicular traffic, stifles downtown redevelopment, and discourages greater use of walking and bicycling.
The Inner Loop East is the section of the Inner Loop from Monroe Avenue to Charlotte Street. It is surrounded by healthy neighborhoods and thriving development. Recreational attractions like The Strong Museum of Play; large employers like the ESL headquarters and M&T Bank; entertainment destinations including countless bars and restaurants, hugely popular street concerts, and international festivals; and residential offerings like The Sagamore and the Union-Lafayette Townhomes all thrive along the borders of the Inner Loop East.
However, these developments and attractions are limited by the expressway that separates them. This bustling part of Rochester is cut in half by the sunken loop that sends people speeding through the area instead of encouraging them to stop and spend time in the neighborhood.
Acres of land directly flanking the Inner Loop east would be popular spots for additional development if the sub-grade highway wasn't at its front door.
Tomorrow's Inner Loop
In order to encourage sustainable economic growth and create a more livable downtown, Rochester plans to reconstruct a 2/3 mile stretch of the eastern segment of the Inner Loop between Monroe Avenue and Charlotte Street into a multi-lane, street-level boulevard.
The new at-grade street would tremendously enhance the area's livability, allowing people to walk and bicycle between neighborhoods and downtown much easier.
In addition to livability, the developable land surrounding the loop would be transformed into a tax generating stretch that would provide Rochesterians and visitors with places to work, live, and play. The City has received countless letters of support from the community from real estate developers to neighborhood groups to business associations, indicating as much.
Reconstructing the Inner Loop East from an expressway to a boulevard will produce a myriad of benefits, including:
- Increasing Traffic Safety: The project will eliminate multiple, non-standard features and three federal-aid bridges, two of which are structurally deficient and in need of major rehabilitation.
- Supporting Healthy Lifestyles and Improving Livability: By providing a boulevard that is safe and easy for non-vehicular traffic to utilize, the project encourages bicycle and pedestrian traffic between these two areas of the city, helping to create a more livable and walkable community.
- Reconnecting Neighborhoods with Downtown: it will remove a significant barrier to redevelopment in the East End, one of Rochester’s most important downtown districts, and reconnect thriving east side neighborhoods with the downtown area.
- Promoting Development: Completion of this project is expected to open roughly nine acres of land to mixed-use redevelopment, which could leverage an additional 500,000 to 900,000 square feet of commercial and residential space. Reclaiming this land will raise local tax revenues, create jobs and generate private investment. The Benefit-Cost ratio of this project is estimated to be between 2.3 and 3.8.
- Saving Money: Maintenance of this portion of the Inner Loop would exceed the cost of filling the loop in and creating an at-grade street.
To learn about all of the potential benefits of reconstructing the Inner Loop East, along with details on the proposed project, check out the project scoping report.
In 2009, the City of Rochester, in partnership with the State of New York, submitted an application to the Recovery Act-funded Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program for funding to complete this project. In October 2011, Rochester will continue to seek funding for this project through the 2011 TIGER Discretionary Grant program.
To complete the transformation of the Inner Loop East, Rochester seeks the following funding sources:
Federal (TIGER): $14, 725,000
City Match: $5,042,000
Other (Federal, City): $2,131,000