Car collision rates are increasing at Northwest 39th Avenue and Northwest 34th Street, and although some residents say traffic signals are to blame, city officials are citing other reasons for the problem.
A resident filed a complaint with the City Manager’s Office at the end of August claiming the traffic light on Northwest 39th Avenue remained green for too long, resulting in cars on Northwest 34th Street running red lights and causing collisions.
Though the Public Works Department dispatched a technician to check the signal and found it was working properly, they still adjusted the detector to ensure all cars were being detected as they approached the light.
Despite the change, collisions are still occurring.
Traffic Operations Manager Matt Weisman said the accidents are due to over-congestion in the area, and changing the length of traffic signals won’t help solve the problem.
“The only thing we can do as far as traffic signals is operate it the best we can,” he said. “But at this point when there’s more traffic than the intersection can handle, there’s not much more that can be done on our end.”
The intersection is overseen by the Florida Department of Transportation. However, it subcontracts the City of Gainesville to operate the intersection.
City Commissioner Thomas Hawkins said the city maintains all the traffic signals in the county and is motivated to remedy the issue because it’s responsible for providing emergency medical services as a result of the collisions.
“We’re the primary source for public safety, so we care from that perspective because we are the first responders,” he said.
Weisman suggested alternative solutions to the crash issue, such as utilizing the bus system and widening the roads.
However, some residents think the city should come up with a different solution to solve the problem.
Tara Richardson, owner of Weecycle, located at 5110 NW 34th Blvd., said in the 12 years she has been operating the consignment shop at the location, she has seen at least one serious collision a month at the intersection.
“When I say major, I mean cars are flipped over,” she said. “Two months ago, there was a double accident on that road, one going north and one going south.”
Richardson said while changing traffic patterns could help, widening the roads and doing other construction could possibly make the accidents worse.
“It’s already two lanes both directions,” she said. “I think construction will cause more problems than what’s already happening.”
A version of this story ran on page 9 on 9/17/2013 under the headline "Over-congestion causing collisions at major intersection"
The intersection at Northwest 39th Avenue and Northwest 34th Street experiences traffic Monday. The City Commission received a complaint about accidents there.