Work prepares Main Street for new roundabout

Published: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 19, 2004 at 2:56 a.m.
Roger Sanderson may be one of the first people in Gainesville to see the beginning stages of the Main Street narrowing project.
It began with the demolition of his business.
Sanderson's motorcycle repair shop, Sanderson's Cycle Repair, was one of the buildings torn to the ground about a month ago, along with South Town Furniture and Bedding, to make space for a roundabout's right of way at Depot Avenue and S. Main Street.
The roundabout is part of a project to reduce traffic on Main Street, from Depot Avenue through NW 8th Avenue, and to "provide a pedestrian-friendly environment," said James Bennett, project design engineer with the Florida Department of Transportation.
Now, where Sanderson's Cycle Repair used to stand, is just a large, square patch of broken concrete.
"I have no opinion about it. It happened," Sanderson said last week. "I have no control over it."
Sanderson, who operated out of the Depot Avenue location for about 18 years, said it took him nearly a month to fully relocate to 4323 NW 6th Street.
"It took a good three hard weeks of seven days a week," he said.
Project moves forward Since Main Street is a state road, the DOT is funding the project, but maintenance will be the responsibility of the city and Alachua County after completion.
To acquire the land where Sanderson's business stood, the DOT had to draw up maps and deeds, appraise the land, and then make a monetary offer to Sanderson based on its evaluations, Bennett said.
The DOT had to make space for the roundabout's right of way far in advance of awarding a contract to begin construction, and they plan on accepting a bid for the contract sometime between April and June. After that, it will take at least three or four more months of gathering building materials and making preparations before crews can begin work. That means construction may start in October.
No date is set in stone though, and city planners are still working on the final designs.
Construction will reduce Main Street from four lanes to two - one-way streets with a center turning lane. To do this, traffic engineers will build the Main Street roundabout to funnel two lanes of northbound traffic into one.
The final product, which will end up costing about $5 million, will also include on-street parking, decorative landscaping and lighting, and brick-paved crosswalks, Bennett said.
The project has evolved over the years since the state began talking about it eight years ago with plans to tear up the road and rebuild and repair the stormwater system. Since then, the state has agreed to work with the city to totally redesign the road to provide more efficient traffic flow and a safer, more attractive environment for pedestrians, City Commissioner Warren Nielsen said.
"It's the best of both worlds," Nielsen said.
Looking to the future It has been hard convincing some area business owners that construction will benefit the area in the future, but others are excited by the idea of a rejuvenated Main Street, he said.
He added some don't realize that reducing the number of car lanes would actually reduce congestion, and traffic engineers have demonstrated to commissioners that the system would help traffic flow. A roundabout alone is 30 to 40 percent more efficient than an intersection, he said.
"The numbers would blow you away," Nielsen said.
Plans have been in the works for the roundabout and lane reduction for more than three years but have been pushed back because of design questions. Now the DOT also has to wait until the city builds a runoff drainage pond just south of Depot Avenue, said Randy Brown, a construction project manager with the DOT in Gainesville.
"Our work can't start until that work is completed," said Brown, who will manage construction when the project finally begins.
Construction of the drainage pond probably won't get started until between April and June, said Matt Dube, project coordinator for Gainesville's Community Development Agency, who is working on a project to make a city park near Depot Avenue.

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