Gainesville City Commissioners approve crucial safety upgrade for East University Avenue

Press release from the City of Gainesville

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – When four-year-old Dylan Roberts was hit and killed by a car while crossing East University Avenue in Oct. 2021, it tore at the very heart of the community. The accident highlighted the need to expedite improvements to make the stretch of road safer. This was particularly true in the area around the City of Gainesville’s Fred Cone Park where Dylan’s family lived and where so many traverse the corridor on foot to access the park amenities and services.

During the past several years, an increase in serious bicycle and pedestrian accidents like Dylan’s has spurred urgent conversations about the traffic crisis in Gainesville. Progress came today when Gainesville City Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a crucial safety upgrade for East University Avenue.

Following today’s approval, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) can move ahead with plans to install a pedestrian-activated signal across East University Avenue between Northeast 26th Terrace and Southeast 26th Terrace. When someone pushes the button to cross the street, traffic lights will start to flash. There also will be illuminated signs with the words, “No left turn” on the side streets to prevent drivers from veering into the road while people are crossing.

This is a collaborative effort between FDOT and the City of Gainesville. The City will continue to own the land where the signals are installed, with maintenance provided by FDOT. Design improvements of this sort typically take up to five years to complete, but Dylan’s story made clear the need for timely safety measures at this location. The work should begin in mid-March and finish by the end of July.

“The decision by the City of Gainesville to provide a permanent easement to the FDOT highlights the commitment and seriousness safe roadways are to the community,” said FDOT District Two Secretary Greg Evans. “Working in partnership with the City, the University of Florida, and engaged community leaders, FDOT is striving for safety and reliable transportation systems for all roadway users,” he said.

Gainesville City Commissioners will continue to focus on citywide traffic safety. Meanwhile, Gainesville Police Department Patrol Support Captain Anthony M. Ferrara says the newly designed, high-visibility crosswalk, replete with amber caution lights, still relies on driver awareness to make it work. 

“Florida traffic laws say drivers have to yield to users at these crosswalks. We expect them to do so. But if you’re the one crossing, GPD wants you to always watch for inattentive, uneducated, or distracted drivers who could potentially violate a pedestrian’s or cyclist’s right-of-way. Our goal is to combine awareness and caution so no further tragedies befall our neighbors,” Ferrara said.

Gainesville City Commission meetings begin at 10 a.m. on the first and third Thursdays of the month. They are broadcast on Cox Cable Channel 12, livestreamed on the City’s website, and archived online.

  • It’s going to take 5 months to put in 2 lights, a couple signs and paint the road? It took less time to paint the multicolored crosswalks downtown. I guess city leadership continues to show their true colors.

    Good luck with trying to get people to use the crosswalk though.
    From what I’ve seen, that’ll get as much use as the garbage cans downtown.

  • I’m sure a 4-year-old will be able to correctly utilize a crosswalk. This makes a lot of sense.

  • If it was a “crucial safety upgrade”, why did it take from October 2021 (accident) to July 2023 (projected finish) to actually see the change ???

  • Remember they spent over $100k for the flashing-lights traffic circle at NE 8th Ave and 9th Street? It doesn’t light up anymore at all. What a joke.

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