GNV revisits Infinity Line bike trail project

Commissioner David Arreola
Commissioner David Arreola advocated for faster action on the Infinity Line bike trail project during Thursday's city commission meeting.

The Gainesville City Commission on Thursday directed staff to take another look at the Infinity Line option that would create an 11-mile connected bike trail across the city, centered at Depot Park.  

Commissioner David Arreola brought the item forward and made the motion for staff to bring back feasibility study options and identify potential funding. The motion also directs the project to the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization (MTPO) for discussion.  

Daniel Gil, founder of the Friends of the Infinity Line group, presented the plan. Gainesville already has three dedicated bike lanes that connect at Depot Park—6th Street Rails to Trails, Waldo Road Rails to Trails and the Hawthorne-Gainesville Trail.  

The city has already scheduled a fourth city trail, from Depot Park to Sweetwater Wetlands, to finish as part of the Wild Spaces Public Places (WSPP) program.  

These trails form a large “X” across the city with Depot Park at the center. By adding a trail across the top and bottom of the existing trails, Gil said the city could form a figure eight trail, or an infinity symbol.  

Gil’s proposal included a bike trail bridge over the intersection of University Avenue and Waldo Road, along with a potential hub for the trail south of Depot Park. The trail would take approximately two hours to bike and would border nine city parks and more than 11 neighborhoods.  

Phil Mann, special adviser to the city manager, said the commission directed staff to analyze the project in 2017 when he worked as interim public works director. Mann said the same issues identified then, and presented to the commission, continue to plague the project.  

Namely, the areas needed to connect the trails lie outside the city’s jurisdiction. Alachua County controls 16th Avenue, and the state manages the portion of wetlands in the south through which the trail would pass.  

“Once Mr. Gil presented this many years ago, we didn’t just put it in a box, put it on the shelf,” Mann said. “It’s going through the process.” 

Mann said the project is on the MTPO list. He added that Gainesville has finished or is scheduled to finish all segments of the trail that the city has the jurisdiction to complete.  

Arreola said the financing could shift from WSPP if needed but action needed to happen, calling the project transformative.  

A map of amenities along the Infinity Line route. Courtesy City of Gainesville.

“If we don’t take a little more initiative, both the city and the county, it may be 10 years,” Arreola said. 

Arreola agreed to add two other trails, Sweetwater Trail and Hogtown Creek Greenway, to the motion for staff to advise on feasibility study options.  

The motion passed unanimously with Commissioner Reina Saco absent, but both Commissioner Harvey Ward and Mayor Lauren Poe touched on procedural rules.  

“I don’t know if there’s a word in the English language to describe my reaction to looking at the agenda where more than half of the regular items were added by commissioners,” Poe said.  

He said the commissioners had the right to add the items, but Poe thought it skipped steps. He added that the entire exercise would be academic if the new WSPP surtax fails at the November ballot.  

On Thursday, the commission also added a charter amendment to the upcoming ballot that would alter how long the city had to hold a special election. 

The commission discussed and voted on the item in June, prompted by a special election and runoff held in November 2021 and January 2022 that ended with Commissioner Cynthia Chestnut in office.  

The new language put before the public would require the city to call a special election within 60 days of a vacancy on the dais and hold the election “soon after.”  

The full text that will appear on the ballot is as follows:  

“IN ORDER TO RELIABLY MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF FEDERAL AND STATE ELECTION LAWS AND REGULATIONS AND TEH DEMANDS OF ELECTION EQUIPMENT AND RESOURCES, SHALL THE CITY CHARTER BE AMENDED TO PROVIDE THAT A VACANCY IN A CITY COMMISSION OFFICE BE FILLED BY SPECIAL ELECTION TO BE CALLED WITHIN 60 DAYS AND HELD SOON AFTER, RATHER THAN THE CURRENT REQUIREMENT THAT A SPECIAL ELECTION BE HELD WITHIN 60 DAYS, AS PROPOSED BY ORDINANCE NO. 210851?” 

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Stanley

Hope they get this done, it would be great for the near east side and the continued development of the Waldo/Univ area.

Your Mama

There isn’t funding, period. Also… the proposed trail goes through parks people pay to visit and good luck getting a paved trail through a wetland area. #wasteoftime #electiontimegroveling

Deborah Wilbanks

Hawthorne. I would love to see the proposed changes, linking trails and parks; both improve local property values.