By Cindy Swirko,
Carl R. Ramey wrote with a question that turned out to be timely — the status of a proposed redesign and repaving of Northwest 16th Avenue/Boulevard and 23rd Avenue.
"I'm aware of the controversy over the width of new bike paths, but it's been a long time since any information has been made public," he wrote.
"Even if there are design and funding issues still delaying this project, can't something be done in the short-term to at least repave a portion of the existing roadway? The part of 16th Boulevard dissecting the north and south sections of the Millhopper Shopping Center is so bad it's dangerous."
The project is being done by the Alachua County Commission, and county engineer Ha T. Nguyen said an update will be given to commissioners May 22.
Nguyen said last week that the plans are 60 percent complete. The configuration calls for wide outside lanes to accommodate cars and bikes. Inside lanes will narrower. Nguyen said no temporary improvements will be made.
"This plan is a compromise for all interests," she said. "Hopefully by next year we will have it under construction. It's just better to do it all at one time. We don't like to piecemeal the project. In the meantime, we have our maintenance crews to fill potholes and things like that."
Kirsten Laufer asked if the traffic signals at the Southwest 20th Avenue and 43rd Street — roads that have recently been redesigned — are going to be adjusted.
"In the mornings, when traffic is heaviest coming in from I-75 and Tower Road, this traffic gets backed up while the light cycles through a green from SW 43rd followed by a lengthy green left arrow for traffic in the opposite direction," she wrote. "I understand the purpose of this cycle during the afternoon commute when people are leaving downtown/UF, but it makes no sense in the mornings — given that traffic is heading in the opposite direction."
Phil Mann, traffic operations manager for the city of Gainesville, said the lights will be adjusted.
"The traffic signal equipment on SW 20th Avenue is in the process of its final acceptance by Alachua County. We will work to make sure the new detectors are working properly as part of the final acceptance," Mann said. "We plan to have everything fully integrated into the (traffic management system) before the fall semester begins."
By Warren Nielsen
Special to The Sun
You may have noticed your commute has been marked by more green lights that have reduced travel times on Gainesville and Alachua County roadways. That's not luck.
The City of Gainesville, Alachua County, the University of Florida, and the State of Florida agreed in 2004 to invest $18 million into a Traffic Management System (TMS) designed to make driving easier and reduce delays by monitoring and coordinating traffic signals. Gainesville is completing this project $3 million under budget with more than 200 signal controls and traffic monitors online countywide.
The signals are electronically synchronized via fiber optics with the TMS control room at the City of Gainesville Public Works Department. Our TMS is recognized within Florida and nationally as state of the art.
Preliminary data collected on benchmark corridors indicate truly remarkable reductions in trip delays during peak times:
■ 13th Street:
AM: 33 percent
PM: 43 percent
■ 34th Street:
AM: 56 percent
PM: 45 percent
■ Archer Road:
AM: 14 percent
PM: 9 percent
■ University Avenue/Newberry Road:
AM: 13 percent
PM: 22 percent
And TMS reduction in trip delays during off-peak times is even more impressive as unnecessary red time may be reduced. Reduction in trip delay directly correlates with increasing roadway efficiency and capacity, as well as lower fuel cost and less air pollution.
System-wide signal timing and monitoring incorporates on-the-fly timing changes as conditions warrant. Some examples:
■ Traffic stacked at an intersection can be cleared out in advance of emergency fire-rescue vehicles.
■ Lane blockage from crashes can be mitigated by greater green time on the remaining open lanes, with closed lanes appropriately lit with red.
■ Emergency dispatchers can estimate the severity of a crash before the arrival of fire-rescue to allow for appropriate response.
■ Police may request assistance in tracking suspect vehicles.
■ New mechanisms to our local TMS can now be developed because of the project's budget savings:
■ Track real time traffic movement on major corridors with route alternatives to be shared with residents online (gac-smartraffic.com), on Facebook and Twitter, or on cellphone applications.
■ Installation of flashing yellow left turn arrows for safety at appropriate intersections
■ Electronic posting of bus arrival times at strategic bus stations.
Recently, a PBS program, “America Revealed,” examined a TMS system in Las Vegas that is similar in design to ours. They gained 20 percent more roadway capacity with their TMS at 1/100th the cost of the roadway expansion needed to achieve comparable results.
Imagine the unnecessary expanse of asphalt and concrete. And compare the returns of our system-wide investment of $18 million to the $101 million cost of building just one road, SW 62nd Boulevard, planned between the Oaks Mall and Butler Plaza.
As our TMS has come on line, many of us have benefited. We now have new expectations of shorter travel times, so be cautioned that as ease of travel increases, new trips quickly increase to absorb the new road capacity.
In a recent national survey, Gainesville had the shortest commuting time in Florida, and was ranked 19th nationally among all metropolitan areas.
Our city, county and university have created a smart transportation system that helps meet the needs of our economic, environmental, and social health well into the future. Our multimodal transportation must to be flexible and innovative by integrating the best of roadway design and traffic management technologies, modern transit, and well-designed bicycle and pedestrian facilities. Gainesville and Alachua County will thrive if we get this right; all of us.
Warren Nielsen served two terms on the Gainesville City Commission, and chaired the Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization.
By Lise Fisher
The crape myrtles in the median on Northwest 16th Avenue in Gainesville received a face-lift earlier this year, but now it looks like a few of them will have to go.
The county announced this month that it will be removing 12 dead or dying crape myrtle trees starting the week of May 14. Five other trees — four loquats and a Jerusalem thorn — also will be removed from the median along the roadway because of decay.
The trees are located in different points in the median on Northwest 16th Avenue and Northwest 16th Boulevard from Northwest 13th Street west to Northwest 43rd Street.
A sign on this stretch of roadway proclaims it Crape Myrtle Alley. The trees line the median and, when in bloom, produce blossoms that are white, pink and various shades of red.
The crape myrtles along the road had been at the center of emails circulating between county and city officials in March. Those emails questioned who ought to be caring for the trees, which appeared scraggly and unpruned, compared to their appearance when in bloom.
The confusion apparently started because this road is a county road that runs through the city of Gainesville. After an exchange of emails, it was determined the county maintains these medians. A supervisor with the county ultimately was assigned to check on the trees and determine when work on them should be scheduled.
Alachua County Horticulturist Heather Martin said the trees did receive maintenance in mid-March. They were trimmed, and moss was removed from the branches.
But Martin said it turned out some of the trees will need to be removed. Age and the "harsh conditions" that roadside plantings experience probably led to their demise, she said.
The trees eventually will be replaced.
Replacement trees will be included in landscaping plans that will be part of a resurfacing project on Northwest 16th Avenue and Northwest 23rd Avenue, according to the county.
Work on that project is tentatively scheduled to begin next spring, Martin said.
Poe Springs Park is an historical landmark in High Springs.
The city recently started taking steps toward taking over operations from Alachua county - but the plan is hitting a road block.
GTN's Shari Perkins is in High Springs - fishing out the story.Click to view story.
For the past 16 years a group of Alachua County seniors has been rockin' for children - and not with music. GTN's George Solis sat in with members of the Alachua County Foster Grandparent Program for the annual Rock-A-Thon.Click to view story.
The Haile Plantation homeowners association boards have consistently opposed the plan to route the Archer Braid Trail through Haile Plantation. They say that they love bike trails, but just not, you know, in their own back yard.
In their Talking Back (May 6) board members say that bike trails are wonderful, but also costly, ugly, an invasion of privacy and a drag on property values.
Really? We have lived in Haile for more than 12 years, with one of the existing Haile trails running directly behind our back yard. This trail is used by numerous cyclists, joggers and walkers every day. This trail is one of the most used (i.e. most valued) amenities of this neighborhood.
A walkable and bikable community is a much more pleasant place to live. Let's move forward with the Archer Braid Trail.Steve Hagen, Melanie Hagen, Gainesville