Alachua County will spend another $350,000 on the NW 16th Avenue project to cover cost overruns and to include a dedicated bike lane.
The Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to approve the proposal, which will re-stripe roads and add four-feet-wide bike lanes in each direction from 43rd street to 55th street.
“Providing the 4-foot bicycle lane will eliminate the confusion that the motorists and the bicyclists have regarding where the bike should be and can be,” said Brian Singleton, Transportation Engineering Manager for Alachua County Public Works.
The project had already cost about $500,000 more than the roughly $7 million originally budgeted. Singleton said the construction of the bike lanes and buffers will be finished by the end of March, and the construction will cost the county about $100,000.
Additional funding was finalized at $350,000 to account for added workdays and an increase in the construction contract price with Anderson Columbia, Inc., Singleton said.
The commissioners voted unanimously for the dedicated bike lane, but argued about the added cost. Commissioner Ken Cornell, the only county commissioner to vote against the expense, said he did so to make a statement.
“I expect to have minor budget overages, but in this case this seemed to be a little bit more than minor,” Cornell said. “It’s something that I thought that we — well, not we… the taxpayers — should have been kept up to speed on throughout the process, so I voted against the additional funds.”
Singleton said the whole project was originally projected to take a year, but has been extended two years due to various unforeseen problems like equipment falling into holes and cross drains collapsing. They were also setbacks due to utility conflicts and compliance issues with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Cornell said he didn’t think taxpayers were happy with the length of the project, either.
“Part of what I was looking for with my dissenting vote was to send a message to, on behalf of the taxpayers, to our staff that the public expects us to be paving roads in a more efficient way, in a more timely way and more of them,” he said.
Once the road is complete, Cornell said, the board asked the project staff to complete a speed survey to see if the current mandated speed of 40 miles-per-hour is safe for the roadway.
“We just want to make sure we’ve taken all the precautions for safety,” he said. “One accident is one too many.”