Next month Rochester’s transportation authority, Regional Transit Service (RTS) will open a new $50 million transit center at Mortimer Street in downtown Rochester. According to a D&C story RTS has requested that the City change the name of Mortimer Street to “RTS Way.” Mortimer Street has quietly existed between N. Clinton Ave and Saint Paul Street since Rochesterville was incorporated in 1817.
I’ve spent the last five years of my life advocating for Rochester’s public transit system and building a good working relationship with folks at RTS. That’s why I know they will take what I’m about to say as constructive criticism, and nothing more. Here it goes:
Renaming Mortimer Street after yourself is a bad idea. Don’t do it!! Now, let me explain…
In 2012 we were surprised to learn that RGRTA had dug up the foundation of the RKO Palace Theater while excavating for the new transit terminal. This week, Jim Memmott reported on some more fantastic treasures that were unearthed at the same site. Some time last year seven heavy stones (some weighing a ton) were pulled up from depths of up to 30 feet below street level. Each stone bore a symbol of the Freemasons…
Like, WOW! I stumbled upon this concept for an elevated transit terminal in a 1967 D&C article. The drawing shows how Rochester Transit Corporation president William Lang envisioned passengers would wait for their bus – suspended above the intersection of Main & Clinton. This view is looking east toward Clinton Avenue with Sibley’s in the background…
A few weeks after we discovered the RKO Palace Theater floor at the site of RGRTA’s future transit center, Russ Shaner, president of the Rochester Theater Organ Society contacted me. These were the guys who saved the old Wurlitzer pipe organ from the RKO Palace before the building was demolished. And as it turns out, one of their founding members, D.O. Schultz, captured a treasure trove of photographs and left them with the Organ Society before he moved to Florida years ago. Russ asked RochesterSubway.com for help, both archiving the photos, and sharing them with you, the public. Yesterday you saw part 1, and now, here is part 2 of this awesome collection…
A few weeks after we discovered the RKO Palace Theater floor at the site of RGRTA’s future transit center, Russ Shaner, president of the Rochester Theater Organ Society contacted me. These were the guys who saved the old Wurlitzer pipe organ from the RKO Palace before the building was demolished. And as it turns out, one of their founding members, D.O. Schultz, captured a treasure trove of photographs and left them with the Organ Society before he moved to Florida years ago. Russ asked RochesterSubway.com for help, both archiving the photos, and sharing them with you, the public. Below is part 1 of this awesome collection…
Can I just say I love WXXI, public radio, and the Bob Smith Show. One day the topic might be the economy or politics; the next might be how to avoid lead poisoning. His guests are always relevant and the conversation is always thought provoking. Also, what other show (besides Wease) can a guy from a blog called RochesterSubway.com call and actually be put on the air?
Yesterday, Councilmember Carla Palumbo was Bob’s guest and the topic was the Mortimer Street Bus Terminal. Most of the callers denounced the project for it’s poor placement or lack of inter-connectivity with other modes of transportation. I wanted to try to move the conversation forward—beyond just this one project.
There’s really no comparison between this proposed $4 Billion transit station in San Francisco and Rochester’s Mortimer St. Bus Terminal. But watch the video anyway. It just might inspire you enough to come to the Hyatt Hotel tomorrow night…
Tomorrow (Wednesday) night RGRTA will host a 2-hour public workshop from 6-8pm to take ideas for the soon-to-be-built Mortimer St. Bus Terminal. You can protest and “Give ‘em Hell”… Or you can give ‘em your ideas… and help influence one of the most important public projects in Rochester’s history.
No signup is necessary, and no designs will be presented. Attendees will cycle through four workstations staffed by city and RGRTA officials, who will record people’s ideas for the center’s design. Those ideas will be posted on RGRTA website, www.rgrta.com .
Tonight was the City Council’s final public hearing and vote on whether or not to release a portion of Mortimer Street (in the heart of downtown Rochester) to the transit authority to build a 26-bay bus terminal. I used the opportunity not to denounce the bus terminal but more so to point out that the City of Rochester has no transportation plan. Also to sharpen my public speaking skills, which, after tonight I realize can only get better. I stumbled, I was shakey, I lost my place several times, and my mouth was so dry my tongue kept making this annoying clicking sound with every syllable. But, I delivered my message and that’s what counts. Anyway, here is the text of my statement:
According to an article in today’s Democrat & Chronicle, RGRTA has decided it does not need to produce an environmental study for it’s proposed bus garage on Mortimer Street. And the project that was despised by the public and the City when it was part of Renaissance Square looks like it will be embraced warmly at next week’s City Council meeting.
Let’s be honest, this is more than just a project…
Last week members of City Council voted 8 to 1 in favor of a resolution supporting a new RGRTA bus station on Mortimer Street. The single vote against the plan came from Councilmember Carolee Conklin, who said the plan is “a 19th Century solution to a 21st Century problem.” RochesterSubway.com has obtained the following memo from Conklin to Mayor Duffy. In it she explains in detail why she is opposed to RGRTA’s proposal…
After the Erie Canal was rerouted south of downtown Rochester, the Rochester
Industrial & Rapid Transit Railway (the subway) was built in
its place as a link between the five different railroads and interurban trolley
lines that served the Rochester area. As the industrial landscape of Rochester
changed, and highways replaced the railroads, the Rochester subway gradually
became a relic of a bygone era. In 1956 the subway was abandoned and much of
its route was converted into Interstate 490 built to connect Rochester
with the New York State Thruway (I-90). Read more about the history of the Rochester Subway.
RochesterSubway.com exists to help spark
public dialogue around how we can better connect the neighborhoods of Rochester
NY, surrounding communities, and their cultural offerings. Rochesters
future is written in her past. Let's rediscover it.