U.S. Department of Transportation awards Gainesville $8 Million to redesign University Avenue

Press release from City of Gainesville

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The City of Gainesville’s most famous thoroughfare will get a complete redesign thanks to an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The systematic transformation of University Avenue from busy main artery to community gem will cover a 4.15-mile stretch of roadway. Within years, slower traffic, narrowed lanes, landscaped medians, and raised crosswalks will make the corridor safer for neighbors in the nearby residential districts, the lively downtown area, and by the University of Florida campus.

The award comes at a time when the community is intensely focused on bicycle and pedestrian safety. Gainesville and Alachua County Commissioners unanimously passed a motion to address the “traffic violence crisis” at the Jan. 23, 2023, Joint City/County Commission Meeting. In Dec. 2022, Mayor Harvey Ward traveled to Washington, D.C. to share Gainesville’s most pressing issues with senior White House advisors—a conversation that included traffic safety.

“I’m thrilled to continue to work with the Biden administration on projects like this that will save lives and make Gainesville work better for all our neighbors,” said Ward.

The $8 million award announced today will enable the City to move forward with the first phase of resurfacing and restriping University Avenue. This will make the road safer in the short term while preparing for larger construction. As with the Destination South Main Project that transformed nearly a mile of previously industrial roadway from Depot Avenue to SW 16th Avenue, the finished stretch will bring fresh character and enhance safety along this trademark corridor.

In the past several years, University Avenue has seen a total of 70 pedestrian crashes with seven fatalities and 12 victims suffering serious injuries. The road’s crash rate is more than double the Alachua County average and more than triple the statewide average. When the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) signaled a willingness to allow the City of Gainesville to transform the corridor into a Complete Street, City staffers got to work with research, design plans, and grant-writing efforts.

“This award won’t be enough to cover the entire cost of the project. This will get us started and well on our way to the vision we saw on the drawing board,” said Special Advisor to the City Manager Andrew Persons.

The City is currently working in partnership with FDOT on the Preliminary Design and Environment Study to advance the design and implementation of the project. Public meetings will follow this fall and early next spring. Construction would then be slated to begin by March 2024.

  • Ward was obviously successful during his visit to siphon more funds from the federal government. I guess all that back door work he and Poe did came in handy with Joe as well.

    Question is, will the city use it for it’s intended purpose or repurpose it for his “special” projects?

  • Can’t wait to see the slight of hand payouts to “repurpose” these funds to other projects and paybacks. Same as it ever was…

  • This is going to be an utter catastrophe, they can’t even get the red lights working properly. The double left turn on to 8th from Newberry has always been a bottleneck since they get 2 green light cycles while the main road gets 1 cycle and backs up.

  • The project will start just in time for the war with China in 2025.

  • It will make it easier and safer for vagrants to panhandle (the important thing).

    • They need to put porta potties and Garbage cans in the medians for the panhandling vagrants and running water so they can pitch a tent and have a permanent place…

      • Yeah…end homelessness by adding affordable housing in the medians and the sidewalks up and down university Ave from midtown to downtown..

  • The one surefire and permanent fix to University around campus is mandatory use overhead crosswalks. If not done, we will continue to stack bodies now and into the future and scratch our heads while blaming distracted pedestrians for the carnage. Do something meaningful for a change!

  • I can see it now – just narrow the lanes, slow the traffic to a crawl and expand the bike lanes. Overhead cross walks would be the best answer to the pedestrian issues. The bikers – they will always be an issue as they are hard to see and ride wherever they choose.

  • The biggest problem is the number of people crossing the road not at crosswalks. But nobody wants to deal with that, they just want to make it harder to drive in this town.

  • That’s just for the “consultation” fund, I bet. They’ve been talking about it for years, no need for any more “consultant fees”.

  • All the vagrants everywhere are probably distracting both drivers and pedestrians. Maybe that’s the real answer. I’m not sure why the boneheads wanted to add the e-scooters to the mix. Now everybody is crying about the sky falling, like they don’t know why. Getting rid of the e-scooters would be a good start.

    • They’ll probably do a bunch of one way streets pushing all that traffic into the adjacent neighborhoods there and make you drive in circles….they’ll
      Put dedicated bike lanes with those bollards on one side and parking on the other side so you got the narrow passage to drive through like on NW 15th from University to NW 5th Ave.. they should put some LED lights on those hump bump speed supressor things so it’s not a
      Big surprise when you go over them..

  • “Traffic violence crisis”? ….what about the “ drug & vagrant violence crisis” we are experiencing in the city from Grace Marketplace? …when are they going to
    Address that at a CC meeting?

  • If they’re not going to put in PROTECTED bike lanes 🚲 , fuggettaboutit!! Otherwise we’re still hoping drivers 🚗 will obey a painted line on the road while they’re on their cellphones 📱. Drivers will only pay attention if they get damage to their OWN cars😫!

    • Just lock up all the people with suspended drivers licenses, no insurance, & switched-out license tags that are caught driving for 5 years mandatory…that will take care of the hit & runs.

  • Jimmy: bike riders need to pay their fair share if they want room on the streets with automobiles. Bikes should have front & rear lights, reflectors, registration like a car a pay for a tag and get a annual renewal sticker….they need to be ticketed and fined if run a stop sign…bike riders are worse than jaywalkers. They need to outlaw skateboards, skateboards with electric motors, and those rental scooter things .

  • 20 years ago there were three different plans to do lane reduction on University Ave. They are finally getting their wish. This city has been persistent in not dealing with congestion and the result has been more fatalities and accidents. As usual, they are addressing the wrong cause.

    • More high rises without enough parking near campus is not helping things in that area either.

  • It would be wonderful if the power’s that be would make sw 20th avenue, NW 8th avenue, SW 8th avenue, SW 75th st and SW Archer road from SW 75th st heading east towards Archer 4 lanes! I understand why you want to put extra into University avenue but because of the colleges and the growth of the city; many of the roads that are just meant for inter-area travel is now being used by those who go to school and are employed by the colleges, medical facilities and everything that goes with Gainesville. There are so many new housing areas that our roads are being overflowed with new traffic and our roads can’t accommodate the present population as it is. I really wish the city of Gaines would just build a causeway that goes from the southwest side of Gainesville over and across to the northeast side of town, that would alleviate a lot of travel issues. I’m absolutely positive people would be more than happy to pay a small fee to get from point a to point b and half the time because we don’t have to use the inner city streets.

    • The city is like one of those crazy people who want to have their own limbs amputated because “it just feels right.” They want to reduce lanes and restrict traffic – not make it more efficient.

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