Gainesville residents could see new bike lanes along West Newberry Road and an expanded Interstate 75 in the future.
These proposals were among the proposals discussed at Monday’s Metropolitan Transportation Planning Organization for the Gainesville Urbanized Area meeting, where the Board asked the Florida Department of Transportation to replace on-street parking with designated bike lanes between Northwest 43 Street and Northwest 38th Street.
Currently, bike lanes exist east of Southwest 38th Street toward Gale Lemerand Drive and west of Northwest 43rd Street toward Northwest 52nd Terrace. To add bike lanes, the FDOT would remove the lines designating the spaces for street parking and paint bike lanes instead.
This change may not be coming for a while though, until the Department of Transportation can secure the $180,000 to $200,000 needed for the project, said Karen Taulbee, an urban planning manager for the FDOT. Even with funding, the FDOT would need to hold a public involvement meeting to get resident opinions on removing the parking spaces.
“We can’t remove on-street parking without public involvement,” she said.
In addition to looking at adding bike lanes, commissioners and Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe look to make West Newberry Road as a whole more uniform, both with bike lanes and speed zones.
“I think we’re creating a distraction by not being consistent,” said District 3 City Commissioner Craig Carter. “We need to really make a decision here and do it.”
Huiwei Shen, officer manager for the FDOT Systems Planning Office, also proposed a master plan to improve traffic congestion on I-75.
About 20 percent of the congestion on I-75 is from daily commuter traffic, she said, and the rest comes from accidents, work zones, weather and holiday travel. On average, there are more than 500 incidents a year on I-75, and once every nine days part of I-75 has to be closed in one direction as a result of the congestion.
Without improvements, conditions could worsen, she said. The level of standard, or measure of how well traffic flows, is expected to fall to an F around 2030.
At that point, traffic would be bumper to bumper, she said.
Short term, the FDOT recommended the board to install more message signs to alert drivers of traffic incidents and give incentives to contractors to help get disabled cars off the road sooner, Shen said.
To offset greater congestion in the future, the FDOT recommended adding two express lanes to northbound and southbound I-75, in addition to the three lanes in each direction.
But Commissioner Robert Hutchinson said 20 years ago, the board voted against adding express lanes amid concerns of cost of the project and local businesses losing customers who might pull off the highway.
Taulbee said no money has been allocated for any of the recommendations. The next MTPO meeting is scheduled for June 5.