Heavy traffic ahead

Students' return means crowded streets and stores


Published: Monday, January 5, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 5, 2004 at 1:22 a.m.
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Freshman Brendan Moore, of Fort Wayne, Ind., walks past Century Tower with his suitcase to Hume Hall on Sunday afternoon.

LEE FERINDEN/Special to the Sun
Police, business owners and Gainesville residents expected the return of congested streets and crowded stores this week as more than 40,000 University of Florida students returned for the beginning of the spring semester.
"Monday is probably going to be the second busiest day of the year" for Gainesville Police, spokesman Keith Kameg said, adding that the beginning of the fall semester is the busiest.
The department's entire traffic unit will be out today, and officers planned to focus on enforcement of speed limits in school zones. Alachua County schools resume classes today, UF classes restart Tuesday and Santa Fe Community College classes begin Wednesday.
"In the past two weeks, people have gotten used to a situation in which they were quickly able to get from one side of the city to another," Kameg said. "But on Monday, schools start back, Alachua County schools as well as UF. We're talking about bringing thousands of people and thousands of cars to the road, all wanting to get to the same place at the same time."
Gainesville resident Charles Monts, 27, said he already had a plan for beating the heavier traffic - catching a bus. While eating ice cream outside the Ben & Jerry's on University Avenue with 9-year-old son Charles Jr., Monts said, despite the increased traffic, he looked forward to the students' return.
"It makes it more of a city," he said. "It's like a dead ghost town without them."
The students' return was also expected to increase traffic at local businesses.
Jocelyn McElroy, who works at the rental office for College Park apartments, said the complex expected a busy January as students come in to inquire about housing for next fall.
"Things really start to pick up for us," she said.
Dave Suro, an employee at Chain Reaction Bicycles, located across the street from campus at 1630 W. University Ave., said about 80 percent of the store's business comes from students.
He said many local enthusiasts choose the relatively student-free holiday break to come into the store. "The parking's easier," he said.
Kameg said police are also expecting a large number of burglary reports from students returning to off-campus residences.
"Criminals know the school schedule just as well as students do," he said.
Rachel Kipp can be reached at (352) 374-5086 or kippr@gvillesun.com.

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