The southwest side of Gainesville is known for major retail, apartments and heavy traffic.
“It takes a while to get over to Butler Plaza to shop or do anything,” says Renee Heisner, who lives at Cabana Beach Apartments, near where the city wants to expand the road behind it to connect SW 52nd Street to SW 43rd Avenue.
The four-lane road expansion would create a direct route from Newberry Road to Archer Road.
“This will create another north-south corridor for residents and visitors to our area,” Chip Skinner, city spokesman, said.
The road would give drivers an alternate route to ease traffic from surrounding roadways.
The preliminary engineering report shows the area has severe congestion that’s “known to exist for several hours a day on many of the major facilities.”
Heisner dodges the traffic at any cost.
“I usually actually try to avoid it,” said Heisner, “and leave and go do my shopping at nighttime.”
The report stated congestion would only get worse with new developments in the area.
The current congestion comes from places like Butler Plaza, the University of Florida, Oaks Mall and North Florida Regional Medical Center.
The city is pooling money for the project with the Florida Department of Transportation.
“We have approximately five to six funding sources that we are going to be counting on to complete this project” Skinner said.
It will cost an estimated $72 million.
In addition to building a connector road, the project will expand and widen Southwest 62nd Boulevard and Southwest 52nd street into a four‐lane divided roadway with bicycle lanes and sidewalks.
The road extension will go through a large area of trees and past Hogtown Creek.
Heisner visits the proposed road area frequently.
“I really like the trees that are there,” she said. “There’s a little trail that goes back there and I love taking trails.”
The environmental study by the FDOT stated “the project may affect, but is not likely to affect, the gopher tortoise or wood stork,” animals that could live in the area.
A public meeting on the design plans may be scheduled by the end of the year.
Road construction is planned to start in 2021 or 2022, depending on funds from FDOT.