Rochester, NY – On Thursday, a City Council committee gave Rochester the initial go-ahead to fill in a section of the Inner Loop. As the WXXI Innovation Trail's Zack Seward reports, the project would create a street-level boulevard between roughly Monroe Avenue and East Main Street.
"I think it's a game changer type of project," says Erik Frisch, the city's transportation specialist.
He says filling in roughly two-thirds of a mile of the Inner Loop will free up nine acres for future development and improve conditions for pedestrians and bikers.
But Frisch says those benefits would be secondary.
"Just simply removing that physical and mental divide that the Inner Loop is will help to encourage more crossover between the center city and adjacent neighborhoods," Frisch says.
Local blogger and transportation advocate Mike Governale says City Council should be applauded for taking a step in the right direction.
The man behind RochesterSubway.com says filling in the moat-like Inner Loop will make downtown more people-friendly and more vibrant.
"I use the road all the time and it's a great convenience," says Governale. "But I think when you're designing a city and trying to make for a viable economic community, and an attractive place to be, you really can't design a city from inside your car. You have to get out and really walk the neighborhood."
The city plans to spend $5 million on the project. The remaining $15 million or so would mostly come from federal sources.
Transportation specialist Frisch says construction could start in late 2013 -- if the city receives a key federal grant.