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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Opening of pedestrian, bicycle path delayed, leaving walkers, cyclists irked

<p>The Southwest 13th Street overpass was delayed due to erosion from Tropical Storm Debby. It’s set to open soon.</p>

The Southwest 13th Street overpass was delayed due to erosion from Tropical Storm Debby. It’s set to open soon.

The pedestrian overpass on Southwest 13th Street remains closed, and some city cyclists are frustrated.

The construction project for the twisted structure, which resembles a double helix, began in March in the College Park and University Heights areas. It was supposed to be open for use earlier this fall, but unexpected weather conditions delayed the construction.

Laura Rawson, a city communications assistant, wrote that Tropical Storm Debby set back opening plans. She wrote in an email the storm caused some erosion, but the railroad bridge turned pathway is expected to be ready in December.

One Gainesville resident said he feels cyclists are more likely to get into accidents because of the bridge’s impediment.

“Whenever a bicyclist has to share the road with cars, there is a greater chance of the bicyclist being hurt,” wrote Terry Rickey, a 57-year-old Gainesville cyclist, via email. “I’ve talked with several people about [this], and everyone is in agreement that this is a terrible intersection to negotiate when traveling east to west.”

He said he originally saw signs near the bridge that stated the opening was set for September, but there are currently no signs with information. Since then, Rickey said he spoke to various workers, but he said he was told different dates and has not received a specific answer as to when the path will be usable.

Rickey bikes to Shands at UF from home and said he saw an accident near the bridge and Archer Road when he was waiting to cross the street in mid-November.

A cyclist was on the sidewalk going downhill, he said, when a woman in a Chevrolet TrailBlazer pulled into the crosswalk to make a right turn on red. The bicyclist turned into the intersection and slammed into the front of the vehicle. Rickey said the man flew into the air and flipped before he hit the ground.

“I can’t help but to think that if the overhead pass had been open, this accident would never have happened,” he said.

The Southwest 13th Street overpass was delayed due to erosion from Tropical Storm Debby. It’s set to open soon.

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