Plans To Improve Downtown Gainesville
The city is already in the process of installing new software that will synch up the traffic lights, but City Commissioners Jeanna Mastrodicasa and Thomas Hawkins also have some plans of their own to help the problem.
Growing up in Gainesville, Thomas Hawkins has learned where traffic moves in town, and where it sits still.
"We don't have the same traffic problems east of 13th street that we do west of 34th street. And that's whether you're walking, biking, taking a bus, or driving," said Hawkins.
So now that Hawkins is on the City Commission, he wants to make some changes to fix the problem. Hawkins has studied bigger cities like Atlanta and Orlando, and says transportation is bad in Gainesville because of the way the city was developed. He says too many of our business centers and neighborhoods rely on heavily crowded main roads, and the layout almost forces people to drive everywhere.
Hawkins would like to see new land development codes put into place that would make buildings sit closer to sidewalks, making it easier for people to walk.
"It's helpful, but it's a means to an end. It's not an end in itself," said Hawkins.
Commissioner Jeanna Mastrodicasa wants to make downtown safer for everyone on weekend nights. She says the solution to the problem may also involve more pedestrians and fewer cars. She's currently working with the Gainesville Police Department to create a late night pedestrian only square where certain streets would be closed.
"That way we will funnel more traffic in different parts of the community instead of through the community," said Mastrodicasa. "And that's really designed for safety. Pedestrian safety as well as to get cars moving instead of just stopping in a traffic jam."
Hawkins admits it may take a long time to change the way that buildings and neighborhoods in the community are developed.
Mastrodicasa hopes the downtown pedestrian square is in place by the start of football season.
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