University of Florida officials present pedestrian safety measures on University Ave

University of Florida officials present pedestrian safety measures on University Ave
Published: Mar. 18, 2021 at 6:16 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 18, 2021 at 9:45 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Between the Department of Transportation, the City of Gainesville and the University of Florida big changes are coming to University Avenue with a joint focus on pedestrian safety. Pedestrian safety projects are high priority at UF following the deaths of two freshmen on the same road.

“We’ve had some tragic incidents as Mr. Chair started the meeting that have shaken our community,” said UF Senior Vice President, Dr. Charlie Lane.

The deaths of UF freshmen Maggie Paxton and Sophia Lambert sparked efforts to make the road safer for all pedestrians.

RELATED STORY: UF students, lawyers fight for safety on University Avenue after student deaths

“UPD had begun doing additional enforcement with GPD,” added Lane.

At a Board of Trustees meeting, a three-part plan with the city and FDOT was presented that go over short, mid and long term goals for pedestrian safety.

“The first, the DOT has offered that they think we’re in a position to change the speed limit to 25 miles an hour on University Avenue. Currently, it’s 35 miles an hour,” mentioned Lane. “They’ve also talked about retiming all the signals along that stretch, there are seven lights currently. We will be introducing more lights with time.”

As law enforcement’s presence increases to monitor pedestrian safety, plans to construct Newell Gateway was put in motion. Working with FDOT, Newell Gateway is designed to help people safely cross University Avenue between Northwest 15th and 17th st.

RELATED STORY: New study ranks Florida at #1 for pedestrian fatalities

“Here’s Newell Gateway, Morey talked to us yesterday about how badly we need to get started on these landscape master plan projects,” added Lane. “This actually was a master plan project but it’s going to serve to help with pedestrian traffic in this area.”

Short-term changes to University Avenue include adding more traffic lights, adding speed tables and lowering the speed limit. University of Florida freshman Sonya Carmona said she’s noticed a difference on the road.

“Realize that if this is happening just in one year, what was happening in the past,” added Carmona.

In the future, changes include a safety audit of University Avenue and plans to expand walkways next to the road. In walking from class to home and crossing university avenue daily, Carmona noticed the united effort to keep pedestrians safe but mentioned speed as a persistent issue.

RELATED STORY: GPD launching Gator STEP to address traffic and safety concerns

“With more police officers it does help but I think reducing the speed limit and I also noticed they’re changing up the signaling so that it stops and slows down traffic which is helpful. But I like how everyone is being involved and being aware about the situation but I think the main thing is slowing down the speed limit.”

Construction of Newell Gateway is expected to start in April. Long-term initiatives are projected to take less than a year’s time to complete.

RELATED STORY: Lawsuit names driver who hit, killed University of Florida student Maggie Paxton

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