Sidewalks and Paths

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General Information on Sidewalks and Paths

Pedestrian Safety is Important

Most citizens realize the importance of vehicle safety and the need to keep our roadway free of hazards. Few think much about the thousands of pedestrian injuries resulting from falls on sidewalks. Rochester strives to provide a hazard free sidewalk system for the use of our citizens and visitors.

Whose Sidewalk is It?

The sidewalks paralleling the street are for the use of all the people. The construction, repair and maintenance of the public sidewalk is the responsibility of the property owner that abuts the sidewalk per City Ordinance Chapter 72.  Sidewalk repair, snow removal and sweeping performed by each property owner contribute to the common good and provide a safe walk way for everyone.

Who Uses the Sidewalk?

We all use the public sidewalks. Walking for fitness, walking for pleasure, walking as a way to go some where, neighborhood children walking to school, kids on bikes, people in wheel chairs; people use the public sidewalks. 

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Bikes in the Downtown Business District

Bikes must be walked on sidewalks in the Downtown Business District

For the safety of pedestrians and cyclists alike, bicycle riding on sidewalks is not allowed in the Downtown Rochester Business District. Cyclists are required to walk their bicycles on sidewalks or ride their bicycle in the street when in this zone. Signs and sidewalk stencils will help designate this area. Violations are subject to a $75 fine, plus the associated court costs.

Click here for a map of the Downtown Business District
Click here for more information about this Ordinance
Click here to read Ordinance 131.02

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Sidewalk Snow Removal Program

When Snow is Here, You Have 24-hours to Clear.  

The City of Rochester is a walkable community.The City needs the help of all property owners to ensure that residents' mobility is safe during the winter season. When it snows, please help to keep public right-of-ways clear of snow and ice. Follow the rules and guidelines on sidewalk snow removal, on-street parking and cold weather safety included in this snow page. Thank you for contributing your time and patience to provide clear sidewalks, ease winter parking limitations and provide access for essential public services.

During the winter it is up to each property owner to clear public sidewalks of snow and ice. Rochester City Ordinance 72.02 requires property owners with a public sidewalk to remove snow and ice within 24-hours after a snowfall. This is necessary to ensure the safety of people using the sidewalks during the winter. Please follow these DOs and DON'Ts:

DO:

  • Remove snow and ice from sidewalks and intersection handicap ramps abutting your property within 24-hours of snowfall ending.
  • Clear snow the width of the sidewalk. Remember that sidewalks are used by strollers and wheelchairs in the winter.
  • Remove ice to bare pavement or make as level as possible and treat with sand, sawdust or similar material.
  • Clear any snow that may be blocking a handicapped ramp, fire hydrant or catch basin.

DON'T:

  • Shovel or plow snow into the street: Violators caught shoveling snow from private property into the street will be fined.
  • Overexert yourself while shoveling: Excessive strain from the cold and hard labor may cause heart attacks.

Pedestrian Facilities Winter Maintenance Map 
2016 Sidewalk Snow Removal News Release

Sidewalk Snow Removal Program FAQ

Why do I need to clear my sidewalk?

Winter weather can create access, mobility and safety issues due to the accumulation of snow and ice. Sidewalks provide access and mobility to pedestrians.

How does the City determine when the snowfall has ended?

End of snowfall determination is based on the National Weather Service's weather station at the Rochester International Airport. We also use the preliminary local climatological data from the Minnesota Climatology working group for snow amounts from previous dates.

How is the ordinance enforced?

Enforcement is primarily complaint-driven. Public Works receives complaints and sends an inspector to see if the complaint is valid (flowchart). The central business area may be inspected without a complaint being received. Complaints can be lodged by calling the Public Works office (507-328-2400) or by submitting an online request.

Who will be writing the Citations?

Public Works Department Employees have been given authority to write Administrative Citations to enforce the existing sidewalk snow removal ordinance.

Why did my property receive a citation?

The sidewalk, when inspected, was determined to not be clear of snow and ice. City dispatched snow removal contractors are required to take before and after photos of the property found in violation. The photos document the conditions and can be provided as requested. Please call 507-328-2400 to request photos. 

Non-compliant & Compliant Sidewalk

What are the costs associated with the citation and contractor services?

Administrative Citations increase per violation if more than one is received in a 365 day period:

 Zoning 1st Citation  2nd  3rd or more 
 Residential  $40 $60   $120
 Commercial/CBD or Industrial  $60  $100  $200

The contractors services costs include a mobilization charge ($46 in 2016; $48 in 2017) in response to an inspector validated complaint PLUS removal costs dependent upon the linear footage of the sidewalk and pedestrian ramps, if present.

What are the two parts of the bill?

The first page of the bill is for the administrative citation written by the Public Works Inspector. The amount depends on if the property is zoned residential or commercial and the number of violations in a 365-day period

The second page of the bill is for the contractor's services to remove the snow. The City hires the contractors and directs them to clear the sidewalk after an inspection by City staff.

We are required to provide citation recipients an opportunity to appeal the citation within 10 days and therefore we mail the citation out as soon as possible after they are written. We typically receive the contractor services bill at a later date and send out bills after the amounts have been reconciled with our department.

Administrative Fine Enforcement Citizen's Handbook

Where do I pay my citation and contractor services bill?

To view assessments online or make a payment from your savings or checking account visit our website www.rochestermn.gov/assessments. Properties can be looked up either by street address or by 12 digit parcel identification number.

Payments can be made in the Office of the City Clerk, 201 Fourth Street SE, Room 135, Rochester, Minnesota 55904, in person or by mail. Please bring or return this notice with your remittance. For information on payments, contact the City Clerk's office at (507) 328-2900.

Free City Sand Locations

Free sand is available to residents in Rochester. You can fill up a maximum of a 5 gallon bucket at these locations:

  • YMCA Downtown
  • Northbrook Shopping Center

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Sidewalk Replacement/Maintenance Policy

Who Painted the Sidewalk?

It is the responsibility of the Rochester Public Works Department to evaluate defects in the public sidewalk and to notify the property owner of safety hazards. The Department has established a system of marking the sidewalk using brightly colored paint to define hazards. The paint will help to alert pedestrians of the hazard, but the primary reason is to communicate with the property owner the exact portions of the sidewalk that require repair. Bright pink is used to differentiate Public Works from utility location makings.

Sidewalk Repair

Sidewalk repair must be completed by a contractor licensed by the city to conduct such work. A permit is required before sidewalk work is begun and the city will inspect the work.

Permit applications and lists of licensed contractors are available on the City's webpage and in-person at the Department of Public Works, 201 4th Street SE, Room 108.