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City of Gainesville ready for change if FDOT gives jurisdiction of University Avenue

Published: Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:33 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2021 at 6:52 PM EST
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -At a Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization meeting last night, FDOT surprisingly announced they are considering handing over jurisdiction of University Avenue to the City of Gainesville.

This comes after two student pedestrian deaths in the past 3 months. The city would have control from 34th St to 13th St.

Gainesville City Commissioner Harvey Ward says as residents of the City, they are better equipped to make the necessary changes to the road, compared to FDOT.

“When there is an accident, our police go out and respond, our neighbors see us on the street corner and in the grocery store and want answers from us,” Ward said. “So we need to be able to respond in a way that makes sense for our community.”

Although it still has not been confirmed, Gainesville City Commissioner Harvey Ward says they have already begun work on potential improvements.

“The first thing that we do, that we’ve already taken action on, is starting a new engineering report,” said Ward. “A new engineering study to make sure that whatever changes we make are the right changes and we make good choices instead of any kind of knee-jerk reaction.”

That report should take 5-6 months to complete. Commissioner Ward, as well as Chris Furlow, an advocate for pedestrian and bicycle safety agree the issue with University Ave is the engineering.

“The road is currently designed as a highway and I mean even the FDOT engineer who was at the MTPO meeting yesterday said it needs to be redesigned if were going to reduce speeds of vehicles” Furlow added.

Even if the city gets control of the road, they will still need help from FDOT, in terms of funding.

“If we are actually able to get to a point in negotiations where that transfer can occur from FDOT to the City of Gainesville, part of the process has to be the funding that comes with that,” said Ward. “We certainly are not in a position to say just hand us the road, we’ll handle all of the funding.”

In the meantime, the city will continue their enhanced safety measures and increased patrolling along University Ave.

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