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Friday, June 02, 2023

City receives $8 million in federal funds for University Avenue construction

Project to begin next year

<p>A pedestrian jaywalks across West University Avenue on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.</p>

A pedestrian jaywalks across West University Avenue on Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021.

Gainesville was awarded an $8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation Wednesday. The money will go toward renovating University Avenue. 

After several pedestrian deaths in 2020, the city has made several attempts to improve safety on the street that runs parallel to UF campus. Now, this new plan will remake the road entirely. 

The plan for the grant money is to smooth over the road with more asphalt and repaint lane markings over a 4-mile stretch. However, the money will not cover the entirety of the city’s hopes for University Avenue, according to a city press release. 

The rest of the plan includes protected bike lanes, sidewalk extensions and more traffic lights. Mayor Harvey Ward wasn’t expecting to find grant money for the project so soon, he said. 

City staff have been working to find funds for the makeover for a year and half. 

“I was surprised by how quickly it came through,” Ward said. “Government is a funny thing. We expect all these projects to take a very long time.” 

But with the grant money, he said construction can start as early as March 2024. The city will host several public meetings over the course of the next few months to finalize the details of the project. 

“We’re going to figure out where the shovels will go and when they’ll go in the ground,” he said. 

Over the past five years, University Avenue has seen 70 pedestrian crashes. Seven had fatalities and 12 sustained major injuries. According to the city, the road’s crash rate is double the county average and triple the state average.

The goal at the end of construction is for the road to meet the Complete Street standards of the U.S. Department of Transportation. These standards are meant to help cities build pedestrian- and cyclist-friendly roads. 

Contact Siena at sduncan@alligator.org. Follow her on twitter @SienaDuncan. 

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Siena Duncan

Siena Duncan is a sophomore journalism major and the graduate school beat reporter for the Alligator. When she's not out reporting, she's typically bothering her friends about podcasts or listening to Metric on repeat. 


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