Intersection traffic causing increased frustration and concern for pedestrian safety in Newberry

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Published: Aug. 20, 2021 at 10:05 AM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Residents in Newberry are calling on officials to help with traffic and pedestrian safety concerns at the intersection of Southwest 15th Avenue and US Highway 27. Drivers heading to work, parents dropping their kids off at school, and residents living nearby all agree something needs to be done to alleviate traffic congestion.

Some drivers are taking shortcuts from 15th Ave to get onto US 27 — like pulling through a nearby parking lot or the Oakview Village Neighborhood. Others are riding golf carts up the sidewalks.

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Oakview Village Homeowners Association President, Naim Erched, said he’s witnessed kids nearly get hit by cars as they’re walking through his neighborhood to get to Oakview Middle School.

“When you see children using sidewalks, the only method of getting to and from places and having to jump out of the way is very alarming,” said Erched. “We are a walking community, we are a biking community, which is amazing, but we can’t even utilize that safely for our kids.”

On Thursday, an Alachua County Sheriff’s Office deputy was sent out to help direct traffic, and barricades were put up to prevent drivers from cutting through the corner parking lot. Solutions residents say are temporary.

“An ultimate solution would be that FDOT allows us to get a traffic light here,” said Erched.

Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlowe said the traffic light, price-tagged at $350,000 dollars, is out of reach.

“The city of Newberry has asked FDOT. They said no. The city of Newberry has offered to pay for the light themselves. FDOT has said no,” said Marlowe. “As it stands in this point in time, a light is out of the question those are 100% controlled at the state level by the Florida Department of Transportation.”

Other solutions being discussed include additional turning lanes, but until a more permanent solution is found the city is working with ASO to help with traffic flow and is asking drivers to be careful and patient.

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