Rochester's Inner Loop freeway is like a moat surrounding downtown, a sunken highway severing surrounding neighborhoods from the city center. But piece by piece, the city is starting to fix this great mistake of the Interstate era.
Late last year, the city finished the Inner Loop East highway removal project. Paid for in large part by a federal TIGER grant, the $22 million project filled in two-thirds of a mile of the old highway trench, setting the stage for better street grid connections and walkable development. The segment carried about 7,000 vehicles a day before it was filled in.
All told, the project has opened more than six acres of land for development. While the old Inner Loop right-of-way is still an empty gravel expanse, the city doesn't expect it to sit vacant very long.
Three development projects have the endorsement of Mayor Lovely Warren, according to the Democrat & Chronicle.
The largest is the mixed-use "Neighborhood of Play," backed by the nearby Strong Museum of Play. It would include a museum expansion, as well as housing, retail, and a hotel.
Another developer is planning a pair of four-story buildings with housing, retail, and offices.
And a third developer, which already has two residential projects underway near the Inner Loop, will add a third building with below-market apartments where the Inner Loop used to be.
Here's a view of the space cleared by the highway.
City spokesperson James Smith told the Democrat & Chronicle that the success of this phase of the project could lead to similar changes along the northern section of the Inner Loop, which remains a sunken highway.