Downtown area receives makeover

Commuting along Gaines Street will soon be very different according to the layout for a new project scheduled to rebuild and revitalize the street by 2011.

Gaines Street is moving from a 2-way, 4-lane road to a 2-way, 2-lane street with limited on-street parking from Woodward Avenue to Monroe Street in a project called the Gaines Street Revitalization Plan.

The plan was presented at the Gaines Street Revitalization Open House held at Residence Inn Marriot on Gaines Street and Railroad Avenue Thursday. The plan is to create a new 18-hour pedestrian friendly downtown. The idea for the development was approved by the city commission in November 2000, according to Roxanne Manning, Gaines Street Project Manager.

The idea for the plan is to link Florida A&M University and Florida State University so that downtown will become an area for entertainment and shopping as the economy begins to improve and downtown demand increases. According to information provided at the open house, Gaines Street is proposed to be an area featured with public art displays, business and live/work spaces.

“I think it will be a good thing for Tallahassee,” said Matthew Atkins, 20, a third year physical therapy student from Tampa.

“Especially, that close to FAMU, it will give students more options,” said Atkins.

According to the city’s website, Electric Utility crews have already started working to prepare for the change and construction is anticipated to begin in mid-May or early June on underground sewer and water lines, as well as resurfacing portions of the roadway.

The work is scheduled to have major effects on Gaines street travelers. Most of the construction will be during the day from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., two travel lanes will be open, one lane in each direction. Construction will take place seven days a week except on football games.

“I’m with them opening more lanes, but I don’t know how I feel about being unable to travel at certain times,” said Brandon Adtkins, 22, a criminal justice student from Pensacola,.

During construction, portions of Gaines Street will be completely closed during overnight hours.

“We appreciate the community’s patience and understanding as we move forward,” said Manning. “While it may be hard to imagine now, this change is the beginning of a new era for Gaines Street and the community.”

After the road resurfacing is completed, new sidewalks and landscaping will be added.

Once construction on the underground utilities begins, and the Gaines Street traffic flow is permanently reduced from 4 lanes to 2 lanes, some traffic will begin using alternate routes.

The city is encouraging drivers to find alternate modes of travel.

The project coordinator also asks drivers to allow more time for travel in the affected areasand exercise caution on all roadways. A large part of the road development will take place this summer, while many students will be away from Tallahassee.

The entire project is scheduled to be completed by late 2010, early 2011. The actual road construction should be complete by the end of 2009.

In order to reach a broader audience students can become fans of Gaines Street on Facebook and Twitter.

“I really think they are trying to reach out to college students, I think they realize that we are responsible for almost all the money generated in the city,” said Adtkins.
The Gaines Street Revitalization Project has a toll-free hotline number for more information (850) -891-8010.