Chuck Woods: Bridge to somewhere
Published: Monday, January 7, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 4, 2013 at 11:30 p.m.
The 10-story University Corners building will be a transformational project for one of the city's most important intersections, adding 500 apartments, 250 hotel rooms as well as retail space and a parking garage for 1,200 vehicles. The parking garage will be connected to the main building via an aerial bridge.
During the Jan. 3 City Commission approval process, the developers indicated the 1.33 million-square-foot project would be integrated with the University of Florida and surrounding neighborhood, but the question of pedestrian access to this facility from the UF campus across the street was not fully addressed. There will be a lot of pedestrian traffic between the campus and this large facility, which means more people using the cross-walk at the intersection of West University Avenue and 13th Street. Pedestrian access and safety will be important.
At the City Commission meeting, the developer indicated construction should begin as soon as possible and nixed the idea of an aerial bridge or tunnel to UF because it would require lengthy negotiations and approval from the Florida Department of Transportation and UF officials. Others have indicated UF "does not want" an aerial bridge or tunnel to University Corners.
However, there is a tunnel on SW 13th Street to connect the main UF campus with Norman Hall, and there are tunnels connecting UF & Shands ospitals with the VA Medical Center as well as the Ayers Building with the Innovation Hub. The newly completed "double helix" pedestrian overpass safely moves pedestrian and bicycle traffic over the busy SW 13th Street corridor. In downtown Gainesville, a bridge connects Union Street Station to an adjacent parking garage.
If a bridge or tunnel is not included in current plans for University Corners, the developer should at least design the project so that an aerial bridge could be added in the future — if the volume of pedestrian traffic warrants such an addition. Adding an attractive bridge would probably require a large supporting column on the sidewalk directly in front of the University Corners building on the north side of West University Avenue, which could restrict space on the sidewalk in front of the building.
Is there a need to revisit the question of pedestrian access between UF and University Corners?
Chuck Woods lives in Gainesville.
Reader comments posted to this article may be published in our print edition. All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be re-published without permission. Links are encouraged.