The Florida Department of Transportation is building four speed tables on West University Avenue in response to recent crashes and rising pedestrian safety concerns.
FDOT spokesman Troy Roberts said the four speed tables will be built along University Avenue and each will be 3 inches tall and cover the entire 21-foot width of the street.
Construction began May 4 and is expected to be completed within the next week.
“Speed on University Avenue is an issue,” he said. “This is an easy and quick way to be able to lower the speed limit. Speed tables are designed for 25 mph, so vehicles that are traveling faster than that will probably slow down.”
Speed tables differ from speed bumps in that they range from 3 to 6 inches high and are intended to slow drivers to speeds of less than 10 mph, according to FDOT. Speed bumps are considered “severe treatments” and are only used on private or residential roads.
Roberts said the speed tables are a temporary solution to the issue of speeding, and their installment will act as a test to determine if other safety improvements, such as lowering the speed limit or redesigning the road, will be needed in the future.
“The FDOT is committed to safety,” he said. “We are all working toward a common goal, which is providing safety to not just pedestrians and cyclists but motorists as well. All of these changes that we have been implementing will further that goal of safety and improve our roadways.”
This Fall, crosswalks will be installed at both 16th and 19th Street allowing for a safer passage across University Avenue and FDOT plans to install two raised crosswalks with pedestrian signals and lighting upgrades along West University Avenue, according to a campus brief sent to UF students and faculty on May 7.
Gainesville City Commissioner David Arreola said the deaths of multiple UF students this past year created public pressures that urged the FDOT into taking action on University Avenue.
“We have been asking for these changes for years, and the real difference this time around was just the sheer number of people all across the state being so impacted by the deaths of two students,” he said. “It was an unbelievable amount of pressure put on the department to finally do something because they hadn’t really done anything until then.”
Speed tables are frequently installed on streets belonging to the city of Gainesville, but this is the first state road in all of Florida to have any installed, he said.
Several Alachua County citizens and UF students are grateful for the attention West University Avenue is receiving.
Among those students is Matthew Chertok, a UF chemical engineering sophomore who created an online petition in January advocating for speed bumps. It gained more than 15,700 signatures.
“I was upset that so many other students were getting hurt or even killed, and nobody ever did anything meaningful about it,” he said. “I am happy about the speed tables and glad they took this issue seriously.”
Victoria Moltzan, a UF public health freshman, said she did not feel safe near the road and often avoided it.
“Every time I cross, even in the daytime, I am very cautious and scared,” she said. “I realize that even if I am not really close to the street, I can still get hit and potentially die.”
However, the speed tables are not enough to squash all fears instilled in pedestrians.
“Building speed tables is a step in the right direction, and hopefully it will make University Avenue safer but I think that more things need to be done to ensure the safety of students,” she said. “This is a pattern that has been happening, so maybe if they redesigned the intersections, that may be able to help.”
Contact Maya Erwin at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MayaErwin3.