Greenway through UF is unveiled
Published: Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 6:33 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, September 26, 2013 at 6:33 p.m.
Connectivity is the key to the University of Florida Campus Greenway, a meandering 2.27-mile shared-use path that will pass major activity and work centers and parking facilities.
The $2.8 million Florida Department of Transportation project is the centerpiece of a walking and biking corridor that ultimately will connect the Archer Braid Trail west of Gainesville to the Depot Avenue Trail that connects to the Hawthorne trail, officials said.
"We have some good bike infrastructure, but not a lot of connections fitting it all together," said Bob Karp, a local activist who attended an open house Thursday afternoon at the Doyle Conner Building to pore over the maps and ask engineers questions about the design.
Karp said he liked the overall plan because it will make bicycling safer, which in turn should encourage more people to take up riding their bikes to school and work and give them transportation alternatives to driving their cars.
"This will make it better," said Charles Buchan, a UF accountant who said he takes the bus to work in the morning and rides his bicycle home in the afternoon.
The UF section of the trail will be a benefit to faculty, students and staff, said Linda Dixon, the associate director of Facilities Planning and Construction at UF.
The proposed path goes past many major features of the campus, from the Harn Museum and Phillips Center past the Southwest Recreational complex, through the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences compound and ending by UF's health and medical complex.
The path also links several major parking facilities throughout the campus, Dixon said, from the Park-and-Ride lot west of Southwest 34th Street, past the cultural plaza parking garage, the commuter lot on Gale Lemerand Drive to Garages 1 and 10 on South Newell Drive.
"I'm interested in riding my bicycle to school," said Ying Yang, a graduate student in urban and regional planning from China. "This will help me ride to school rather than take the bus. It's very crowded in rush hour."
A bike lane that will be part of the path, she said, will encourage more students to ride their bikes and help ease the campus congestion problems.
The project is being entirely funded by federal transportation improvement projects that are designed to get people out of their cars, DOT spokeswoman Gina Busscher said.
The project application was submitted by Dixon to the Gainesville Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization in 2010. Curtis Reynolds, vice president for business affairs at UF, serves as an ex-officio member of the MTPO.
The path didn't get funded until this year because of the project's cost, and because of the shortage of dollars the North Florida DOT district receives for such projects, Busscher said. The district only gets about $5 million a year for enhancement projects, most of which are in the $500,000-and-under range, she said.
Also, the campus section is more expensive per linear feet than both the six-mile Archer section to Southwest 91st Street, which cost $1.1 million, and the 3.5-mile Haile Plantation section, which it is estimated will cost $750,000.
The higher cost has to do with a number of features that UF requested for the trail, said Richard Moss, the project management engineering consultant for the FDOT.
Some sections of the path will be made of permeable surface material designed to absorb water rather than create runoff, he said. The path will have boardwalks and a bridge that add to the cost, he said. And handrails will be installed along parts of the trail where there is a drop-off.
In addition, the state will be expanding a box culvert at Gale Lemerand Drive, he said.
The project also will require mitigating wetland impacts, he said, but that cost is not included in the construction budget.
"There are some things that do add to the cost," he said.