MnDOT looking at major changes in NW Roch. - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

By Jennifer Hoff

MnDOT looking at major changes in NW Roch.

ROCHESTER, Minn. (FOX 47) -- MnDOT's plans to make-over parts of Northwest Rochester were met with opposition and questions Thursday night. At an informational meeting, MnDOT said its proposal isn't set in stone, but major changes are necessary to meet the demands of a growing city.

The plans are expensive, and could force a number of homeowners out to make way for a new road. If no improvements are made MnDOT says, you soon won't be able to get around northwest Rochester.

Traffic along 55th Street northwest doesn't always move freely. Things can get pretty gnarled at the end of a work day.

Tack on another 15 years and MnDOT says, traffic volumes here might triple.

Spurred by the city's wish to install a new interchange at Highway 52 and 65th Street Northwest, MnDOT is examining the transportation needs for that area in the next 25 years.

The plans were unveiled to the public Thursday night.

Called the 'Northern Rochester Transportation Study', MnDOT, along with the city of Rochester, has a number of ideas - one of the most controversial includes building a new west frontage road between 55th and 65th streets.

It would follow Clearwater Road north and affect 15 or so homeowners, including Jim Coplen. A homeowner for 25-years, his property could be purchased for right-of-way if Mn-DOT's plans go through.

"We never thought they'd consider tearing down houses and putting a frontage road in," says Coplen.

Mn-DOT says, the plan isn't set in stone and questions about how effective frontage roads will be still remain.

"Can we put in frontage roads that will help alleviate some of those local traffic needs going from an interchange to an interchange?" says Kristin Hernandez from MnDOT.

Citizen feedback Thursday night will help engineers compile preferred designs, which may not even affect Rochester for another 20 years.

In part because MnDOT doesn't have the $30 to $40-million it would take to pay for the proposal. MnDOT plans to phase in the projects over the next two to 20 years.

Other design plans released from MnDOT include:

· Construct a new folded-diamond interchange at Highway 52 and 65th Street Northwest
· Relocate 55th Street East Frontage Road (Bandel Road)
· Construct six lanes on 55th Street Northwest between Members Parkway and East Frontage Road (Bandel Road)
· Reconstruct the Highway 52 interchange at 55th Street Northwest as a single-point urban interchange
· Construct a West Frontage Road between 55th Street Northwest and 65th Street Northwest (Clearwater Road alignment)
· Additional local roadway improvements (e.g., additional lanes and/or intersection turn lanes)

These alternative design utilize community feedback from the November 19 public meeting.

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