Newberry approves road agreement with FDOT

Newberry City Commissioner Tim Marden at a recent meeting
Newberry City Commissioner Tim Marden and his fellow commissioners supported an agreement to change State Route 26.
Photo by Glory Reitz

The Newberry City Commission on Monday unanimously approved an agreement with the state for a project that will transform State Road 26 into two one-way roads. 

The Newberry Commission OK’d the Master Joint Project Agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) at its regular meeting. 

David Tyler, FDOT’s transportation planning manager for District II, presented the FDOT project, which will split a portion of SR 26 into a pair of one-way streets. The existing SR 26 will be eastbound only, with two 12-foot lanes, a bike lane, roadside parking and sidewalks on either side. 1st Avenue will serve westbound traffic with two 11-foot lanes, roadside parking, a sidewalk and trail running beside it. 

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“I don’t know who first came up with it, but I think it’s going to be a real boon for our town and our community,” Newberry city manager Mike New said in the meeting. 

The project will also add a roundabout and traffic signals to SR 26’s intersections with other roads. Tyler said the project will reduce conflict points by 25% across 20 locations. One roundabout at County Road 337 will reduce conflict points by 75%. 

For additional project costs, FDOT has added two proposed parking lots, as well as additional parking on side streets, creating 39 more parking spots than are available now in Newberry. 

The project will cost $80 million to $85 million. FDOT expects the roadway construction to cost $45 million. Utilities adjustments around the project will be about $10 million, with engineering design at $7 million, and construction engineering inspection costing $8 million. Securing the right of way is not finalized yet, but Tyler said it will be $10-15 million. 

Much of the project funding will come from the state, but Newberry is responsible for anything that is a “betterment” to the road beyond FDOT’s basic plan. The agreement approved Monday allows FDOT to move forward with its plans and file work orders with the city, for which New can approve funds up to a certain level. 

FDOT plans to begin work in March 2027 and complete the project in June 2030. 

Solid waste plan gets first vote 

The commission also passed the first reading of an ordinance to participate in the Alachua County Solid Waste Municipal Service Benefit Unit (MSBU). 

Newberry City Commissioners Monty Farnsworth at a recent meeting
Photo by Glory Reitz Newberry City Commissioners Monty Farnsworth

The county levies a solid waste assessment annually, and the rate has gone up for the first time in three years. For FY23-24, the monthly charge will be $25.27 for all residences. Single-family residences currently pay $20.78, and multi-family residences pay $19.29 

If Newberry chooses not to participate in the agreement this year, the city’s service fees will rise to accommodate the county’s additional charge for non-assessed municipalities that send their waste to its transfer station. 

Commissioner Rick Coleman was not present at the meeting, and Commissioner Monty Farnsworth said initially he was unsure of plan, so Mayor Jordan Marlowe recommended tabling the motion until the full commission was able to discuss the agreement. 

After hearing a presentation about the agreement, Farnsworth agreed to vote, and the motion passed 3-1 with Commissioner Tim Marden in dissent. The agreement will come back for second reading, for which Marlowe said he would like to hear from a county staff member. 

Graphic depicting the changes planned for State Route 26
Courtesy of Florida Department of Transportation Proposed changes to State Route 26.

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