Gainesville receives federal funding to help upgrades to University Avenue
The city received $8 million from the US Department of Transportation to help expedite the upgrades already in progress
By Ethan Budowsky
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - The city of Gainesville is receiving $8 million from the US Department of Transportation to help fund upgrades to University Ave.
City leaders say the upgrades will help make University Ave. safer.
Upgrades will include more stop lights, crosswalks and other improvements to pedestrian areas.
“The idea, though, is to make it safer for folks so that it’s not just a truck route,” said Gainesville Mayor Harvey Ward, “but also something everyone can use. There will be some more lights, there will be some protected bike lanes, there will be some other bike lanes. There will be opportunities for what we call ‘bowl bouts’ the things that kind of extend the sidewalk and the pedestrian areas.”
The changes come after two high-profile pedestrian deaths have happened on University within the past few years.
A 4.1 mile stretch of road will see changes, from Fred Cone park in East Gainesville to NW 22nd Street near the edge of UF’s campus.
Ward says the changes will impact East Gainesville as well, not just the areas closer campus.
“If we use a street as a highway that people only use to get by as quickly as you can, then there’s no opportunity for economic development on that corridor. But, if you slow it down a little bit and you provide opportunities for people to want to get out of the car, to want to use it in different ways, then there’s opportunity for store fronts.” there’s opportunity for very different uses that we simply don’t have right now.”
One Gainesville resident spoke about how they would like to see the city go about this project.
“Definitely if they were able to put into the interests of the people,” said Taylor Reavis. “Definitely get feedback from the people of Gainesville to see which areas are most affected by high traffic with limited pedestrian safety precautions. $8 million can go a long way in terms of being able to provide for the community.”
Ward estimates the grant will cover a third of the costs for the entire project. He said prior to the funding he expected the project to take six-to-seven years, but now expects it to take much faster than that.
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