Olmsted County requested $2,224,000 for an $11.5 million project (19%) to reconstruct an interchange at Hwy 63 and County Hwy 16. The project would improve access to the Rochester International Airport and surrounding Industrial Parks.
The project would reconstruct and realign the interchange at Hwy 63 and County Hwy 16 south of Rochester near the Rochester International Airport. The current bridge is in poor condition, has poor sight lines, a lack of turning lanes, and limited accommodations for non-motorized travel. County Hwy 16 is a National Highway System (NHS) Intermodal Connector, one of only 11 roads in MN that provide access between a major multi-model facility and the National Highway System. The interchange is 3 miles north of the Hwy 63/I-90 interchange. This project is consistent with the long range plan for the area, which involves converting Hwy 63 from a freeway to an expressway. A second phase of the project is to construct a frontage road system and to reduce the number of accesses to Hwy 63. Traffic counts along the corridor are high: north of Interchange sees 30,500 Annual Average Daily Traffic and 1,600 Heavy Commercial Annual Average Daily Traffic; South of Interchange AADT is 21,900 and 1,150 for HCAADT. By 2040, AADT is expected to growth to 36,400 (north) and 32,800 (south).
Economic Development Impacts
The Rochester International Airport employs over 270 people and serves over 320,000 commercial airline passengers per year. The airport generates $161.5 million in economic impact in the region. The airport is expecting a 27% increase in passengers by 2025. According to the County, some 875,000 people to come to Rochester per year for activities related to the Mayo Clinic. It is estimated that 25% of those arrive via air. Mayo is planning a major expansion that will double the number of patients and add 20,000 employees. The Rochester airport is planning the construction of a new terminal. In addition to the essential transportation service the airport provides to Mayo and other business support, there are a number of industrial parks near the project area. In 2012, FedEx shipped 18 million metric tons of air cargo through Rochester. They currently operate a 80,000 sq. ft. facility at the airport and are opening another 60,000 sq. ft. facility three miles south in Stewartville. Other businesses in the area include Tri-State Cold Storage, Mallard Seed Co., AgStar Financial, and Americinn. There is also room for additional business with vacant industrial lots available. The MN Statewide Freight Plan designates TH as a major freight corridor in SE MN.