City approves four-way stop

ALACHUA – Alachua commissioners nixed plans Monday for a roundabout in lieu of a four-way stop at the intersection of NW 142nd Terrace and 150th Avenue near City Hall.  Citing concerns of pedestrian safety and the additional construction cost, commissioners unanimously voted to maintain the four-way stop as it is now, even after the intersection is reconstructed.

The roundabout had been years in the making and was part of a larger project to reconstruct NW 142nd Terrace from the intersection all the way to U.S. Highway 441. Funding for the project is provided through a tax increment district managed by the City of Alachua Downtown Redevelopment Trust Board (DRTB), which provides recommendations for projects within the downtown district.

The commission also approved the intersection along with plans to renovate the surrounding areas.  The approved renovation plans, which are currently 90 percent complete, include provisions for landscaping improvements and the installation of a storm water storage facility underneath the baseball field on 142nd Terrace.

The commission chose to forgo the construction of a roundabout only after extensive discussion and public comment.  Several commissioners and Alachua residents alike expressed concerns that the roundabout, while aesthetically pleasing, would be more dangerous to pedestrians than a four-way stop intersection.

“We want to be sure that all pedestrians are safe,” Commissioner Shirley Green Brown said.

According to the presentation by Monique Heathcock of Causseaux Hewett and Walpole (CHW), the roundabout would calm traffic more smoothly than a full-stop intersection, while also lessening the severity of any car accidents that might occurr at the intersection.  However, Heathcock noted the construction of the roundabout would cost the City an additional $75,000, while forcing drivers to acclimate themselves to a new type of intersection.

According to Heathcock’s presentation, a four-way stop is cheaper and safer for pedestrians.  However, the existing plans called for a roundabout and must now undergo a four-to-six week redesign to accommodate for the four-way stop.

Along with the four-way stop and roundabout, CHW also offered a third option, a two-way stop which would not impede northbound or southbound traffic on NW 142nd Terrace.  The two-way stop option was largely ignored during the commission’s discussion.

The commission also voted to allow the plans to be open to bidding from construction contractors once the plans are 100 percent complete.

The plans for improvement for the area surrounding the intersection include the addition of several trees along 142nd Terrace and the installation of a facility which would store rainwater beneath the Skinner Park baseball field, alleviating some flooding and allowing the water to percolate into the soil.

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