Northwest Eighth Avenue in Gainesville was fully closed for the fourth time in four months over the weekend as construction on the road moves forward.
The city does have other partial road closures planned (listed below), including those that started on Monday of this week and will continue through Thursday.
But the full road isn’t expected to be shut down again, according to a schedule provided by Chip Skinner, a spokesman for Gainesville’s Regional Transit System and Public Works.
And no closures will take place during University of Florida home football games during the upcoming season, Skinner said, noting such closures would cause extreme traffic jams.
But everyday traffic flow on the road — especially since schools opened earlier this month — sometimes becomes congested.
“Ever since classes started, there has absolutely been more traffic along the road,” Alachua County School District employee Pat Groce said as she sat at a red light at the road’s intersection with Northwest 34th Street.
The weekend’s full road closure — which lasted from Friday night to Sunday — allowed construction workers to lay structural asphalt, the first layer of a road, Skinner said.
The purpose of the project is to improve the road by repairing its dilapidated areas, according to an RTS news release. Certain sections of the road will also see lane and sidewalk expansions.
Plans for the road’s construction began in July 2013, Skinner said, but the project wasn’t approved by the city commission until 2014. The construction’s area spans from Northwest 40th Drive to Northwest Sixth Street.
Parts of construction were completed in April. Most if not all of the construction is scheduled to be completed by November, but a precise completion date hasn’t been announced.
Construction was initially budgeted at $3.6 million, according a separate news release. But because of several changes from the city commission as the project has moved forward, the cost has risen by about $30,000, Skinner said.
Groce isn’t the only one who has felt the effects of the construction.
Because of it, the local Veterans for Peace chapter cancelled their annual Memorial Day tribute this past May.
The club places more than 6,000 replica tombstones along Northwest Eighth Avenue, each representing a soldier who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The current construction plan has taken away some of the roadside the club uses and “doesn’t give enough room,” said Scott Camil, president of the local chapter.
But Jean Lee, who takes Northwest Eighth Avenue at least five times a week to visit her daughter, said traffic is based more so on timing than the road construction.
“Right around this time [4:15 p.m.], it’s not too bad,” she said while stopped at the Northwest 34th Street redlight.
The city has these remaining partial closures scheduled for Northwest Eighth Avenue, weather permitting:
- Sept. 5-20 — for construction of short medians and crosswalks
- Sept. 21-27 — for installation of road signs and landscaping
- Nov. 7-8 — for the placement of the final layer of road lane stripes