Gainesville and FDOT are moving forward with building a road to try to decrease I-75 congestion

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Gainesville city officials, with help from the Florida Department of Transportation funding, are going through with plans for a new road and bridge adjacent to Interstate 75, despite a slowed timeline and previously contested land ownership.

The city is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation on a project that includes the construction of a road that would parallel I-75 and run from Southwest 62nd Boulevard to Clark Butler Boulevard. The project also includes repairs to 62nd Boulevard and the construction of a 300-foot bridge over Hogtown Creek.

While the project was originally slated to be complete by early 2023, that’s now when the city expects to begin construction, according to John Veilleux, the supervising engineer for the Gainesville Public Works Department.

The pandemic slowed down the process, said City Commissioner David Arreola.

This is among the stretches of land along I-75 in Gainesville where construction of a new road and bridge are set to begin in early 2023. (Julia Cooper/WUFT News)

The new road is being designed to provide an alternative route to taking I-75, which will hopefully alleviate traffic around the area, according to Arreola. He said that he hopes this will also improve safety.

“Unfortunately, I-75 (near) Gainesville and going as far south as Ocala and as far north as Alachua is one of the most dangerous and deadly stretches of highway in the country,” Arreola said.

In October  2020, the Florida Department of Transportation had not yet made all of the land acquisitions necessary to go through with this project as some homeowners were reluctant to give up their land. However, Veillux said that as of now, all land has been purchased and design plans are set to receive comments by the end of next week. The plans will be finalized by the spring of 2022.

Construction of the road and bridge is not expected to add a high amount of traffic congestion to the area, however, there might be some interruptions to the two ends of the proposed bridge, according to Veilleux.

“We don’t expect a lot of impacts in the major middle portion of the project because it’s going to be kind of a natural area,” he said. “But, the two ends, there’s going to be some impacts to Butler Plaza and the very south.”

About Julia Cooper

Julia is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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