The city of Tallahassee announced a $54 million project to extend FAMU Way. This project is being completed to ease traffic congestion but will force nine residents to move from their homes.
The details of the construction were discussed at a breakfast held at Smith-Williams Community Center, in light of the projected FAMU Way extension project that would begin in 2013.
The extension’s goal is enhancing transportation to Florida A&M and investing in the south side community.
The project will extend FAMU Way past Railroad Avenue, where it presently cuts off at Wahnish Way. It will continue on to Lake Bradford Road, coming out between the McDonald’s and the Bank of America branch.
“Students at FAMU and Florida State University may benefit from this project, because the road would reduce on campus traffic, and allow for more on street parking,” said Michelle Bono, one of the assistants to the city manager.
The extension will cause trouble for some, however. Bikers, taxpayers, and the owners of nine homes expected to be demolished have raised some concerns.
Smiling faces behind a table lined with surveys, greeted those entering the Smith-Williams Center on a 28 degree Saturday morning. Hundreds of people held booklets illustrating the possible designs and concepts of the FAMU Way extension.
Many complained about not having a presentation and a formal question and answer session. City managers, commissioners and the mayor of Tallahassee listened to residents and examined the array of billboards detailing the construction plans.
An older woman began speaking to City Manager Anita Favors Thompson.
She chose to use the alias “Janie,” and said that her mother built her house in 1948. This house, as well as eight others, sits on the land that the city needs to acquire before the extension project can begin.
Janie refuses to cooperate with the city and does not want to give up her mother’s home.
“The city is going to do what it wants and buy my land anyway through eminent domain,” said Janie.
In order to be able to acquire the land for the project, the city will have to use a process known as eminent domain. “Eminent domain gives rights to the city to acquire lands for the good of the people,” said David Snyder, program manager for Blueprint 2000, the building company for the project.
Blueprint 2000 will also be responsible for reconstructing the ditch off FAMU Way in the Sterns-Moseley community. This project is in conjunction with the extension of the road, Snyder said.
The ditch is considered to be a major hazard.
“From a mother’s perspective, closing that ditch is a big deal,” said Roxanne Manning, program director for the Community Redevelopment Agency. “People have died.”
City officials provided a booklet that showed five design alternatives for construction of the road and covering the ditch. But Tallahassee resident Willie Roberts was not impressed. He disapproves of the project because he said it is too expensive and he doesn’t believe any of the route options will guarantee a smooth flow of traffic.
“The project is a waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Roberts, who lives close to the area being affected.
Frank Overstreet, a visitor from Indiatlantic, Fla, was concerned with the bike trails on all of the designs. In the proposal, 5 feet are designated for bike lanes on each side of the road extension.
However, 10 feet of bike lane is more land to acquire, therefore problems may arise for bikers. Overstreet suggested cutting down the bike lane size and placing a barrier between bikers and drivers.
“Don’t ask me to obey the law and risk my life,” said Overstreet. He wants to ride his bike in the street safely, but it may be difficult if reckless drivers are only 2 feet away.
Overstreet suggested another alternative to bike lanes in the street. Instead, lanes could be added to the sidewalks.
According to Talgov.com, if approved by the city commission, the project will take 18 months to be completed.
The Web site states the cost is $50 million, but Manning corrected the website and said, “At most, the project will cost $54 million.”
That amount does not include work on the ditch that could be paved over, and used for parks and sidewalks.
The City Commission is scheduled to vote on the project in February, depending on feedback from the community, according to Bono.
For more information, visit http://talgov.com/pubworks/famuway_index.cfm