Strategically located in southeast Minnesota, Rochester’s ideal position in the Midwest places it in proximity to 16 major metropolitan areas within a 550-mile radius. The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul are approximately 80 miles northwest, with the Iowa border accessible in just one hour. The Rochester MSA is a regional transportation center, affording various options when it comes to traveling locally, nationally and internationally.
All roads lead to Rochester, making ground travel to, from and around the city effortless. Both commuters and distributors utilize several major highway routes in the region. East-west travel is available via Interstate 90, U.S. Highway 14 and State Highways 30, 42 and 296, while north-south routes include Interstate 35 and U.S. Highways 52 and 63. Various bus lines and taxi companies also serve the Rochester area, providing an alternative option for local and regional transportation. Plus, the majority of Rochester hotels provide shuttle service to a variety of local destinations.
In addition to freight rail services present in the area, business and leisure travelers are afforded Amtrak travel at an established station in nearby Winona—a quick one-hour trip to the east. The Empire Builder route serves the station, providing daily service between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest.
Rochester leaders, including the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce, have established an alliance to support high-speed passenger rail service through Rochester. Rochester, as Minnesota’s third-largest city, is a logical stop for high-speed passenger rail. In addition, Rochester advocates for the Southern Rail Corridor, which would provide an alternative route for freight rail, removing congestion from the downtown area and offering a safer, more efficient way to move freight through the area.
In January 2011, Zip Rail, the proposed high-speed passenger rail service between Rochester and the Twin Cities, was unveiled. The Zip Rail high-speed passenger rail line would begin in downtown Rochester, travel north through Dakota County and connect to the Twin Cities. Alliance members are working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to develop Zip Rail as a true high-speed passenger corridor during set travel schedules aimed at peak travel times.
DOWNTOWN SUBWAY/SKYWAY SYSTEM
A multitude of destinations spread throughout downtown Rochester are linked by a modern pedestrian subway/skyway system. The climate-controlled environment makes this system quite attractive, especially in the cold winter months. Thousands of people utilize the aesthetically pleasing pedestrian subway/skyway system each day to reach retailers, hotels, offices, restaurants, parking areas, healthcare resources and other sites in town.
Rochester International Airport, accessible just eight miles south of downtown Rochester, is served by two commercial airline carriers (American Eagle and Delta Airlines). They provide daily non-stop service to Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit. Air cargo services are available through FedEx, and the airport’s Fixed-Base Operator, Signature Flight Support, provides a full range of quality aircraft services. Rochester International Airport has recently invested in facility enhancements; updates have been completed in the lobby, ticketing and passenger gate areas as well as a complete remodel of the restaurant facilities.
Further options for air travel are available through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, located 90 minutes from Rochester.