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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Destination Medical Center Corporation Board met today and was presented with an update on the proposed Link Bus Rapid Transit project.

The update included some enhancements to the original proposal, which have contributed to an increase in the overall price tag of the massive project, According to the presentation, the estimated cost has risen from about $114 million to nearly $150 million since the original project was submitted to the Federal Transit Administration. The presentation indicated the higher price tag would not impact the local share of the overall cost, which is just under $59 million, but the revised application boosts the federal government's contribution to about 60-percent of the total price tag.

The enhancements authorized by the board today are:

  • Realignment and extension of east terminus with a new station on 6th St. SE,
    west of 3rd Ave. SE.
  • Enhanced station user experience focused on weather protection and
    sustainable design materials with direct access to pedestrian subways.
  • Expanding the project definition in the application to the FTA Small Starts
    Program to include infrastructure improvements, including design and
    construction of a public plaza area, a portion (1,400 feet) of the roadway,
    municipal utilities along this roadway, and public parking at the West Transit
    Village, extension of 6th Street SE, and bus maintenance improvements at the Public Works Transit Operations Center.

The changes will push back the completion of the project from 2025 into 2026.

DMC rendering
DMC rendering

The DMC Board also approved a request for additional funding for improvements to the Chateau Theater in downtown Rochester. The $250,000 from DMC state funding will "provide for the installing, furnishing, and equipping of the Chateau Theater as a multipurpose performing arts center and driver of DMC development District economic activity and revitalization." The enhancements include furnishings for audiences, lighting, projection, and audio equipment, along with upgrades for the building stage.

Kim David/TSM
Kim David/TSM

There was also a "changing of the guard" today in terms of the leadership of the DMC board. Former Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak finished his term as the chair of the panel. His successor is Pam Wheelock with Rochester Mayor Kim Norton continuing as the vice-chair.

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