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Alachua County to begin repaving worst section of Northwest 23rd Avenue

Much of Northwest 23rd Avenue is in a crumbling state. “If you want to say on a scale of one to 10, how badly it’s needed? I would say 10,” said Ramon Gavarrete, Alachua County engineer and public works director. The project will move ahead later this year. (Julia Lejnar/WUFT News)

Kevin Gunning only has one way in and out of the neighborhood he’s lived in for almost 30 years, and it leads to Northwest 23rd Avenue.

“The road is failing,” he said.

Potholes litter the pavement. Some are about the size and shape of a large dinner plate. Others are thin, snaking across roughly two feet of asphalt and branching off into a web of cracks.

Soon the road will see major changes. Construction was to begin Monday, according to Alachua County Engineer and Public Works Director Ramon Gavarrete, but a 12-week supply chain delay will push the project to June.

Every weekday morning, Northwest 23rd Avenue features a rush of parents dropping off their kids at Buchholz High School. There are also students – new drivers – making their way to the school on their own.

“Having a safe road for teenagers is really important – and where they can’t use it as an excuse for being late,” said the school’s principal, Kevin Purvis.

Santa Fe College, further west, also draws a lot of traffic to the road. Sarah Blanc is the civic engagement and service specialist for the school. “It’s not just potholes,” Blanc said, also noting “the lack of an emergency lane.”

Gaverrete said Northwest 23rd Avenue has drawn a lot of complaints for years.

Some weeks, he gets as many as two to three emails about it.

Gavarrete said the abundance of complaints combined with the road’s heavy traffic load made it a priority for the county. Working with contractor V.E. Whitehurst & Sons, Inc., the county expects to have Northwest 23rd Avenue fully resurfaced from Northwest 58th Boulevard to the bridge over Interstate 75 in just over eight months. The contractor will add turn lanes as well as a multi-use path on the north side of the road, in addition to signs and pavement markings. Crews will also work on a pedestrian signal at NW 83rd Street, as well as a few necessary drainage changes.

The majority of the work will be done at night, he said. Noise may be a concern for locals, but the alternative would be major disruption to traffic flow during the day.

Alachua County commissioners approved the vendor contract in January, with a total project budget of over $10.5 million. The project is in line with the county’s10-year transportation improvement program, which includes maintaining plans for roads that were already fully funded by the plan that preceded it, according to Gavarrete.

The funding the county has for this project represents a recent change, Gavarrete said.

Many of the county’s roads are in bad condition, he said, “because of all the 30 to 40 years where we have not really invested in our roadway infrastructure as much as we should. The funding wasn’t there.”

But despite progress, Gavarrete said the current funding is still not nearly enough to fully refurbish the county’s roads.

The total funding for the program is $252 million over 10 years, but the county would need $56 million a year to touch every road, Gavarrete said.

When projects like this one do make it to the action stage, Gavarrete said he hopes the public is patient during construction.

“Once we’re done with the construction, they’ll have a very nice road,” he said. Purvis is looking forward to the change. “I’m grateful. It’s a terrible road,” he said.

Gunning said it will be a good thing for the county on multiple levels. “It’ll improve traffic patterns. It’ll create commerce,” he said.

It might make it more difficult to get in and out of his neighborhood, he said, but it’s still worthwhile. “It’s progress,” Gunning said. “Progress sucks sometimes, and then people get used to it.”

Julia is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing