Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - It was years in the planning stage and construction began two years ago and now a major new road in north Rochester opened to traffic Thursday.

The 55th St extension project includes a new road that runs from West River Road near Essex Park to the 48th St intersection on N Broadway.

The $33-million project also includes an upgrade of Broadway between Shopko North and 48th St to include four lanes. Improvements were also made to West River Road and the entrance to Essex park.

City and county planners spent more than 25 years discussing, designing and securing funding for the project. This is the largest non-metro project in Minnesota to be funded entirely with local dollars.

The new bridge that crosses the Zumbro River is the second longest structure (485 feet) built by the county. Only the County Road 12 bridge that also crosses the Zumbro is longer (496 feet).  It is nearly 125 feet wide and includes protected pedestrian/bicycle lanes on both sides.

A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Thursday morning at the new bridge east of Essex Park and the roadway was later opened to traffic for the first time.

We talked with County Board chair Ken Brown right before the ceremony. Check out the interview.

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