The first phase of resurfacing and restriping can move forward on University Avenue after an $8 million federal award entered the city of Gainesville’s bank account, the city announced on Wednesday.
The funds will get changes moving, but the city will need more capital to finish its vision of University Avenue. The city’s release said the new surfacing and striping will improve safety in the short-term while preparing long-term projects.
“I’m thrilled to continue to work with the Biden administration on projects like this that will save lives and make Gainesville work better for all our neighbors,” Mayor Harvey Ward, said in a press release.
Gainesville and Alachua County commissioners declared a traffic violence crisis last week after two bicyclists and a pedestrian were hit and killed in January. The University Avenue corridor has been the focus, and leaders said the project will need collaboration from local, state and federal departments.
“The systematic transformation of University Avenue from busy main artery to community gem will cover a 4.15-mile stretch of roadway,” the city said in a press release. “Within years, slower traffic, narrowed lanes, landscaped medians and raised crosswalks will make the corridor safer for neighbors in the nearby residential districts, the lively downtown area and by the University of Florida campus.”
Currently, westbound traffic on University Avenue has narrowed to one lane near campus as the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) installs a new traffic light at the NW 16th Lane intersection by Baptist Collegiate Ministries.
Another new light will arrive at the NW 19th Street intersection.
Daryl Goss, FDOT community outreach specialist, said construction of the new stop lights will finish this spring before more construction starts later this year.
FDOT has finalized plans to build two raised pedestrian crosswalks at Gale Lemerand Drive and NW 14th Street. These raised crosswalks will replace the current speed tables, and Goss said the crosswalks will be wider than the speed tables.
The construction on the raised crosswalks will finish in the last quarter of 2023, Goss said.
So far, Goss said FDOT hasn’t finalized any other changes to University Avenue near UF’s campus or downtown Gainesville.
Study underway for future construction
However, a Project Development & Environmental Study (PD&E) is underway for both University Avenue and NW 13th Street. Both FDOT and Kimley-Harn, a city contractor, are working on the study.
Ali Brighton, engineer for Kimley Horn, said the PD&E has entered an analysis stage after last week’s public input at six corridor walks. She said each walk had 20 to 45 public participants, exceeding expectations.
In an interview, Brighton said the study tries to balance the needs of different users—pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.
“There are so many different types of users of these two corridors,” Brighton said. “They are some of the most commonly used, focal corridors in our community.”
Daily, more than 20,000 vehicles travel the roads right around the University Avenue and 13th Street intersection, see data below. Plus, thousands of pedestrians and bicyclists crossing from UF to apartments, stores and jobs nearby.
Brighton said FDOT, Kimley-Horn and other groups are working in unison on the study. As a state road, FDOT has final authority over changes.
The PD&E study follows two corridor studies the city financed that finished in 2021.
“In general, the PD&E study is a more in-depth process,” Brighton said. “It follows certain formal guidelines and procedures that are set forth by FDOT, and those procedures will help, essentially, qualify the project for future funding.”
The 18-month study is set to finish in the spring of 2024 and will involve future community input sessions. A study website will also display information and updates.
2021 Annual Average Daily Traffic at University Avenue and 13th Street intersection:
- University Avenue just west of 13th Street: 24,000
- University Avenue just east of 13th Street: 19,800
- 13th Street just north of University Avenue: 26,000
- 13th Street just south of University Avenue: 31,000
The GNV Mayor and CC will waste this money on rainbow, or BLM, crosswalks and call everyone safe! They have to pay for their 90% self awarded pay raise!
Remember the 5 cc that voted for the unreasonable raises on the next votr.
$8 Million for temporary improvements seems a bit pricey.
If they’re going to be reducing the vehicle traffic throughput for that stretch of Univ Ave, how is it going to be sustainable going forward?
Finally. This has been an ongoing effort for what seems like decades. Not only are there fatalities due to the configuration of University, but a truly walkable area will make a more vibrant city and help business owners. I’ve been to a number of cities that have enhanced city centers by making them pedestrian friendly. And I’ve long wishes the sides north and south of university could be more accessible to pedestrians.