New changes are coming to the Southwest side of Tallahassee as the city introduces a new project called “Airport Gateway.” It is a series of plans made to help improve access to and from Tallahassee International Airport.
The project is put on by Blueprint 2000, a Tallahassee/Leon County intergovernmental agency.
“Airport Gateway” consists of three parts: the first part will enhance Springhill Road by creating bike paths and pedestrian safety improvements, the second part will occur on Lake Bradford Road, and the last part will add a roundabout to the intersection of Stadium Drive and Gaines Street (the plan also includes improving pedestrian safety through bike paths).
Blueprint 2000 held a series of meetings over the course of one week to discuss the project and take feedback from both residents and business owners.
“We’ve heard encouragement, we’ve heard folks that want to make sure we are paying attention to what matters in their neighborhoods. We have really heard from a broad array of people with one common theme—they care about this community,” said Ben Pingree, director of the Tallahassee/Leon County Planning Department (PLACE).
Blueprint 2000 announced the improvements in October with plans of holding community meetings to get feedback in late November. They are planning for a final meeting and vote that is scheduled for December 5th. Community members expressed their frustration with the lack of timing and the need to not want a busy road in the middle of their neighborhood. Debbie Lightsey is a Lake Bradford resident who is frustrated with the project.
“This project is very far along without any significant input,” said Lightsey. “We have an approved project that we’ve had on the books for 15 years and we don’t understand why this new one has been receiving so much support without any input from the public.”
Florida State University (FSU) is on board with the project as well and plans to build a road off of Orange Avenue near its Southwest campus. The plan is to connect all three universities to “Airport Gateway” near the FAMU-FSU School of Engineering.
“A lot of FSU students that I talk to do not really use the airport simply because it is too expensive to fly out of Tallahassee but the idea to alleviate traffic for FSU students is a good thing,” says Tia Johnson, a FSU student.
The project is expected to cost over $58 million and will be funded through the Penny Sales tax.