Proposed median changes: a letter to whom it may concern

I’ve been struggling mentally with this for weeks, even more so in the last 24 hours since I finally got a contact name for someone who might actually listen to my concerns. Below is a letter that I just wrote, where I really hope I came out sounding like a rational adult and less like the Crazy Yarn Store Lady OMGPONIESa;slfja;dsfja;ldfskj.

To whom it may concern;

I am writing in regards to the proposed median modifications between NW 43rd Street and NW 41st Street on NW 16th Ave/Blvd. Not only do I live off of 16th Avenue, but I own a business off of 16th Blvd, right in front of two of the proposed median closings; as such, I feel highly invested in this project.

In spite of the fact that “notification of these activities will be given to the public through signs placed on site, press releases, fliers, emails, etc.” I have found it difficult to find information (other people I know who have been given names and phone numbers have found their calls to never be returned, and that the contact person they were given is no longer the contact person); but was recently pointed towards a few pages and PDFs on the Alachua County website. I now feel that I am more familiar with the plan of the project. Many of the points I wholeheartedly agree with; most especially with making the entire corridor more bicycle-friendly and the additions of sidewalks in some locations.

However, I am extremely concerned with the closing of two out of the three left-hand turns into Millhopper Square when heading west on 16th. One of the closings I could support, the closing of the median close to the Kangaroo station. Between the median opening being so close to the light, where people wait to get into the Kangaroo thereby blocking traffic trying to turn South onto 43rd, and the dangerously fast and blind right onto 16th when heading north on 43rd, that is an intersection that does need to be reviewed for safety concerns. But I am extremely concerned that the inability to make a left into Millhopper Square at the median between Fresh Market and Publix is going to put an incredible amount of stress on the very small intersection/light at the corner at the Gainesville Community Playhouse.  Being that I now have to take that light in order to get to work, I can tell you that the length of the turn lane is barely over two car lengths. I have read in your paperwork that traffic studies are being conducted, but many of the business owners in our plaza are wondering if those studies that are being conducted now are taking into account the reduced flow of traffic that we’re seeing due to the Jo-Anne’s closing and the demolition/reconstruction of Publix. Once the new 51,000 square foot Publix reopens in the fall, after the decision has been made to close the medians, the sheer volume of traffic turning at the light – with a turn lane not quite the length of three cars – is going to cause many people trying to continue straight west on 16th to sit through many a light change while cars slowly filter through to the left.

For about a week or so, the big median between Publix and Fresh Market was coned to indicate a “left in/right out” turn; this was fabulous. It negated the dangerous activity of people speeding recklessly across four lanes of traffic to get into the other plaza, but it still left the median open for the flow of east/west traffic to be able to turn into the plaza on the opposite side of the road. Now, from what I understand from reading the documents I found online, the left into the Fresh Market plaza will be allowed, but the left into Publix/Millhopper will be closed. I find this frustrating both as a person who drives into the plaza and as a business owner in the plaza. In order to get into our plaza when coming from the east, customers to the locally owned businesses in our center now have to turn in at Gainesville Community Playhouse, drive down to the Post office, up around the gated Publix construction, and through an almost blind entrance in order to get to our parking lot. Not that a lot of people are using that entrance now that the turn has been closed at the median strip, so I guess that’s one thing to be thankful for.

It would make many of us in Millhopper Square relieved to hear that the plan might be changed to reconsider the closing of the larger of the two medians. The way it was just last week, “left in, right out”, is a permanent solution that we could get behind. We would love to hear about any changes, or updates, or to know if you are interested in feedback at all. I see in your documents that “notification of these activities will be given to the public through signs placed on site, press releases, fliers, emails, etc.” but we in Millhopper Square don’t feel that this is necessarily true. We find things out not through fliers or press releases, but through gossip of our customers; this makes us feel that our ideas, our input, our feedback, and our worries about the future of our businesses aren’t important in the grand scheme of these traffic changes – but we would also love to be proven wrong about that, and hope that letters like mine can help to open up discussion.

Thank you for your time,

Lorena Haldeman

Co-owner of Hanks Yarn and Fiber

Millhopper Square

4127 NW 16th Blvd

(352) 338-7222

hanksyarn@gmail.com;  or personally at haldechick@snarkland.com

7 comments

  1. I think it sounds good and reasonable. The only thing I didn’t get was the “left in/right out”. However, I’m hoping the DOT people understand that. Is it possible that you could add a diagram to the email to show them exactly what you are proposing/ they briefly did?

    • Quinn, someone else in my shop who knew a little bit about what was going on called it a “left in/right out”, so that’s what I used in my email. I got a phone call back within about 20 minutes of sending my letter (!) and he knew exactly what I was talking about.

  2. Lorena, great letter. Paula at Really Knit Stuff is facing a big “supposed” road improvement project that right now blocks traffic sometimes on the weekends and has some potentially serious unintended circumstances in the next 2 years… All in the name of “economic stimulus dollars” that she unfortunately will never see. And she too must find out through the back door or cryptic posts on county websites. Hang in there.

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