Road roads, and constant traffic delays and detours on Gaines Street may be worth the hassle for Tallahassee drivers.
Construction, underway since 2009, block the north side of Gaines Street and have created a one-lane, one-way westbound road between Duval Street and Railroad Avenue. The route has allowed for construction workers to safely build median islands with enough access room for drivers.
“It took 20 years for the improvements to Gaines Street to be put into action, which will revitalize the area,” said Lizzy Kelley, a public information specialist for the city. “The improvements are not designed for commuters particularly,” said Kelley. “It’s taking it from a commuter road to hopefully a more pedestrian-friendly area to create a more distinct district. Similar to what mid-town is doing organically.”
The plan for the area is to create a district near downtown, between Florida A&M and Florida State, with restaurants, residences and shops. This will allow people to stroll down wide sidewalks and get a true feel of what Tallahassee has to offer, according to the city officials.
“It’s being taken from a four lane, two-way road, to a two lane, two-way road with island medians,” said Kelley. “What you can’t see that is really necessary and not all that glamorous is the sewer system. The entire system has been improved. The system was 30 years old with clay pipes deteriorating. The new systems will help the businesses that are there right now and also help in the future.”
“In addition to all the new improvements, the street signs will even be changed from the traditional white and green to a black and white,” said Kelley. “That will also include the Gaines Street logo that will be visible at night.”
According to city officials, one thing that pedestrians will really like is the mid-block locations where pedestrian walkways going to be placed. Mid-block crossings will allow pedestrians to press a button and lights will flash to indicate to drivers that they need to stop so pedestrians can safely get across the road.
“Gaines Street will continue to be a one-way from Duval Street to Railroad Avenue until this phase of the project is completed, which their estimated to be mid to late June,” said Kelley.
Reconstruction of Gaines Street has cost the city approximately $11 million, according to Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce.
There have been reports from business owners in the recent months about the effects of the construction on businesses in the surrounding area.
“Unfortunately, there are those inconveniences of construction equipment in the area and the road is not as smooth as it once was, but we keep trying to stress the end product that will hopefully be worthwhile,” said Kelley. “One thing that we have done for the businesses that we have not done on anything to date is on the detour roads; we have installed signs that list the businesses that are accessible by that side road.”
Phase one and two are expected to be completed in the summer 2012, but it is hard to give an exact date, according city officials.