Sheridan Rudolph’s daily work commute on Southwest 20th Avenue could take 10 minutes, he said, but instead usually eats up about 40.
But Rudolph and other travelers on the road might get relief — albeit in a few years from now.
The Gainesville City Commission recently approved HNTB Corporation to begin drafting plans for construction of new road connecting Clark Butler Boulevard and Southwest 62nd Boulevard and running behind Cabana Beach Apartments on the west side of town.
This would give Southwest 20th traffic a shortcut to Archer Road instead of drivers needing to use Southwest 34th Street.
But construction is not expected to begin until 2020, and Rudolph said he thinks that’s too far out.
“Four years until we get any relief is definitely poor planning,” said Rudolph, a 39-year-old Gainesville resident. “In the meantime, traffic is going to continue, and it’s going to get worse.”
The city can’t begin making the new connector road immediately because funding needs to be secured and studies need to be completed to ensure no roads will be built over sinkholes or through animal habitats, said Chip Skinner, a spokesman for Gainesville’s Regional Transit System and Public Works.
“That’s why it takes a long time to design and bring designs to a contractor,” he said, adding that HNTB Corporation will be sending the overall plan to the city in parts over the next two to four years.
Rudolph wrote an email to the city expressing his concern that the diversion plan will not be as beneficial as instead expanding Southwest 20th Avenue into a four-lane road.
Officials knew that this was a problem six years ago, he said, adding that the city could have considered the issue while working on the Butler Plaza North development, which runs along Clark Butler Boulevard.
In response to Rudolph’s idea, Skinner said expanding the road would be a costly project that would not significantly alleviate the traffic congestion.
“We have to purchase the [private] land to expand that roadway unless the state, city or county already owns a significant portion,” Skinner said, adding that such a move wouldn’t be a cost-efficient use of funds.
The new connector road, Skinner said, is expected to achieve the goal improving the flow of traffic.
“It would be good for the city as a whole,” he said.
Kaitlyn Heumann, a 20-year-old University of Florida student, commutes from Cabana Beach Apartments to school each day.
The drive down Southwest 20th Avenue is the worst part of getting to school, Heumann said.
“A lot of it is just sitting there,” she said. “You feel like you’re wasting time and wasting gas by taking the car.”
Although the new road will give drivers an alternate route, the construction and traffic in the meantime could affect residents at the apartment complex negatively, Heumann said.
“If it turns into a populated road,” she said, “it will just make the commute longer.”