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City requests proposals for Inner Loop North designs

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The city of Rochester has issued a request for proposals for preliminary designs for filling in what remains of the Inner Loop.

That section of the loop — a 1.5-mile stretch of freeway that lines the northern edge of downtown and is commonly referred to as the Inner Loop North — terminates at East Main Street.

Filling in that section would complete a project that began with the filling in of Inner Loop East, which was completed in 2017. That project turned South Union Street into a two-way road, and fostered an influx of new housing developments downtown.

Last year, Gov. Kathy Hochul earmarked $100 million in the state budget for filling in the Inner Loop, an unprecedented sum in state dollars for a Rochester infrastructure project. Construction is estimated at $89 million, according to the request for proposals.

The Inner Loop, which began construction in 1952 and was completed in 1965, has been seen by today’s city leaders as a monument to poor urban planning, dividing neighborhoods and creating what officials have described as a concrete “moat.”

“This project will set the stage for other investments to come, and we can’t even think about or realize, we can’t even imagine it,” Mayor Malik Evans said last year upon learning that the state was financing the project. “This investment will allow us to take Rochester to the next level, it’s going to allow us to reconnect our neighborhoods, neighborhoods that should not have disconnected.”

The request for proposals states a number of key goals for the Inner Loop project. Among them are “reconnect neighborhoods and restore a human-scale street grid,” “facilitate opportunities for community-based development,” and “promote reuse of vacant and underutilized lands.”

The preliminary design work is expected to begin in August and to be completed by the summer of 2025. Groundbreaking is expected to take place in March 2027, with a completion date estimated for November 2028.

Gino Fanelli is a CITY staff writer. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or gino@rochester-citynews.com.

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