The construction plans for Northwest 8th Avenue changed from four car lanes to three at the Gainesville City Commission meeting Thursday night.
The plans, which include three automobile lanes and two bikes lanes, reflect public input on the coming changes to the road, according to Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe.
“People felt very strongly about their positions,” Poe said. “That’s why I do believe that this five-lane configuration, that really makes it safe for all users, was really a compromise.”
Planning for the 8th Avenue construction has been in the works for several years. The decision to restore the road to four lanes was voted on in 2014. As the plans stand now, there will be two eastbound automobile lanes, one westbound automobile lane and two bike lanes. The mayor said the change in plans will not delay the project.
The sidewalks on the south side of the road will be reduced from 10 feet to 8 feet wide, which will allow the annual Memorial Mile tribute to remain at the same location — previous plans no longer made the event possible. The May 2016 event was cancelled because of the current construction.
Poe said public opinion was split — about half of the people who gave their opinion wanted two lanes and the other half wanted four, without bike lanes.
Mark Bazinet, who works as a handyman, has lived in Gainesville for 30 years. He said he travels on Northwest 8th Avenue to get to work almost every day and used to live in a neighborhood near Westside Park, located at Northwest 8th Avenue and Northwest 34th Street.
“Three lanes is just not going to work,” Bazinet said.
He said four lanes is the solution to traffic congestion problems. He plans to find another route to work to avoid the road once the new plan is implemented.
Quilandra Jamison lives on Northwest 37th Drive and said she didn’t have a problem with the road before. However, she is excited to see the changes the construction will bring. Eighth Avenue is an integral part of her daily travels.
“Pretty much everything you do, you’ve got to go down 8th Avenue to get around Gainesville,” said Jamison, 25.