West University safety project nears completion

Another piece of the West University Avenue puzzle is nearing completion, as sections of Northwest 14th Street and Northwest 15th Street are being converted from two-way streets into a one-way pair.

The segment of the two roads between West University and Northwest Fifth avenues are being converted from two-way to one-way in an effort to increase safe interactions on University. The work on 15th is almost complete and the work on 14th is expected to be finished in August.

“The conversion of these streets from two-way to one-way will reduce potential conflicts between vehicles and bicyclists and pedestrians at the intersections with University Avenue,” the city said in a press release Wednesday.

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Once completed, anyone who wants to access that segment of 14th Street will need to turn off University onto 15th Street, travel about 3/10ths of a mile to Fifth Avenue, and then travel a block on Fifth to 14th Street.

The city is keeping the existing on-street parking on 14th and 15th and is adding bicycle lanes as part of the project.

The project is part of the city’s Vision Zero action plan, which aims to reduce traffic fatalities and serious injuries from crashes.

“We know from Vision Zero that safe roads are a function of engineering, education and enforcement,” City Manager Lee Feldman said in a Zoom interview with Mainstreet Daily News in March.

Making 14th Street and 15th Street a one-way pair is part of a series of changes that have been made to the portion of West University that borders the University of Florida this year, following two pedestrian deaths in separate traffic crashes last winter.

Other changes include lowering the speed limit, installing speed tables, improving the pedestrian crosswalks and retiming the lights—all in an effort to slow traffic and improve safety.

This fall the Florida Department of Transportation is slated to install mid-block pedestrian crosswalks.

The city has hired an engineering firm to look at the possibility of a longer-term street redesign. The study by HDR Engineering is ongoing.

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