Thursday evening at city hall, FSU and Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency got the approval of the 2020 Airport Gateway Project from city commissioners. The meeting was the 26th time in thirteen months. In a 12-0 vote, Leon And Tallahassee commissioners approved a project that will affect south side residents, Florida State University and Florida A&M University.
According to blueprint2000.org, the budget for the project will be 58.7 million dollars and will result into a cohesive east-west corridor that will stretch across Lake Bradford Road to seamlessly connect FAMU, FSU, Innovation Park, and the Airport to the urban core.
Countless residents and business owners expressed their concerns over the course of a three-hour public comment hearing. Lynn Jones an Orange Blossom Heights resident is concerned about the encroachment of all the surrounding neighborhoods. “The same thing they are doing in the Liberty, and Providence neighborhood can certainly happen to our neighborhood. What they are doing in Midtown and Gaines Street is an example. We are most importantly concerned that they are taking our neighborhoods and using it for what they want to use it for” says Ms. Jones.
Although the board approved the project unanimously, they promised to include suggestions that were pitched by southside residents. Such as speed bumps to be inserted in order to control the speed limit on the road as well as better lighting along the roads.
At the end of the meeting, County Commissioner Bill Proctor praised the south side. “I’d never seen this many heavyweights lobby for the south side,” Proctor said
City Commissioner Mary Ann Lindley has a positive perspective on how the road will help the south side. “This project will be huge improvement, we want to make a good impression because universities have people who visit here from all the world. The whole south side will benefit in terms of restaurants, and business being built to accommodate the visitors” said Lindley.
The second component of the vote was approving an agreement requiring FSU to contribute 3 million dollars toward building the new road. From the perspective of FAMU and FSU, the project can be viewed as a win-win. The proposal also consisted of development and expansion of FSU and FAMU College of Engineering.
Some of Tallahassee’s prominent assets reside on the south side of towns such as the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, Morcom Aquatic Center, WFSU Public Broadcast Center, and FAMU-FSU College of Engineering. These assets are a few that employ thousands of residents and attract visitors.
One of the core highlights of the proposal was to ensure visitors arriving and departing via the Tallahassee International Airport travel a pleasing route that reflects the local beauty on any route taken. Going forward the transformation is something some is still not willing to make. Efforts in the past decade have resulted in the transformation of well-constructed Cascade Park and Gaines Street. Projects can transform the quality of life for everyone in a city. As for the 2020 Gateway Project all Tallahassee can do is wait to see the results.