Construction of FAMU Way and its Effects on the Community
There has been much havoc throughout the south side area of Tallahassee because of the extensive construction that has been taking place since 2014. This multi-million dollar project revolves around improving the infrastructure within the community. Currently, Gamble Street, FAMU Way, and South Adams Street are all closed due to two major projects; the FAMU Way Extension Project and The Care Point Health and Wellness Center.
The projects that have been done implemented new sidewalks, roadway extensions, and sewer utility upgrades. The focuses are on the construction that is taking place on FAMU Way and its ties to the construction of Gamble Street.
The goal was to find out when the construction will end and what will be the benefits of both projects.
The Phases of Road Construction
In the spring of 2010, the City Commissioner approved a cost-effective extension of the FAMU Way alignment to Lake Bradford Road. The extension was based on the feedback from a survey that was given to the south side community. PDF of FAMUWay
The project’s goal was to complete an east-west route between the two areas with improvements to the FAMU Way corridor and additional features such as wider sidewalks and on-street parking. The construction is divided into three phases.
The first phase of the FAMU Way project was broken into an eastern half and western half and the construction began in April 2014. This entire extension is from FAMU Way to Pinellas Street.
The eastern half, from FAMU Way to Bronough Street, focused on revamping the cramp two-lane road into a now wide two-lane divided road with an underground drainage system. The western half, Bronough Street to Pinellas Street, only extended the road and added features like a playground and water play area. This phase was completed during the summer of 2016.
From Pinellas Street to Gamble Street is currently under construction and is the second phase of the project. According to Mayor Andrew Gillum, “Gamble will become FAMU Way and it will tie into the existing road. The intention is to tie what we’re building, The FAMU Way where it comes to a stop, and weave it back into the other existing roadway to minimize the amount of damage and relocation for the neighborhood.”
This phase is the extension of FAMU Way from Pinellas Street to a new roundabout on Gamble Street. The final piece in this phase is the off-street bicycling and walking trail connecting the St. Marks Trail Extension to the Capital Cascades Trail. This phase is expected to be completed during the Fall of 2018.
FAMU Way Phase 3 is the final extension phase of the roadway from Gamble Street to Lake Bradford Road. The phase will include the same amenities as the previous phases such as on-street bicycle lanes and parking. It is scheduled to begin by end of 2018 and be completed Fall 2020.
Although the Care Point Health and Wellness Center is not a part of the FAMU Way Project it did stir up commotion and made itself known.
The new $15-million facility is a medical clinic that will aid the individuals in the south side area. On December 1, the center, at 2200 S. Monroe Street, began accepting new patients. Its main goal is to become a one-stop shop for patients, so it offers adult primary care, dental, infectious disease services, mental health services and more.
The Care Point Health and Wellness Center was an investment made by Big Bend Cares, a small nonprofit that sets out to protect and maintain the health of those affected by HIV/AIDS. The following partners have teamed up with Care Point: the Apalachee Center for mental health services, Bond Community Health Center, Patient Care from Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare Family Practice and Florida State University College of Medicine.
The Longest Table is an annual event that Leon County Government, The Village Square, and more government officials presented to the Tallahassee community. The Longest Table gave residents from every area of the city a chance to eat, communicate, and build relationships with each other. At the event, Mayor Andrew Gillum participated as a host and talked to many of the attendees.
When asked about his thoughts on the FAMU Way Project Gillum stated, “It’s a slight inconvenience, but it will be done in a couple of years. And when it is opened, as I’ve told many of my friends who have liquid cash to invest, you ought to be buying up some property along the roadway because it will become the newest area for redevelopment and reinvestment.”
Mayor Gillum made it apparent that investing in the neighborhood would wreak their benefits in years to come.
The FAMU Way project seems to have a favorable outcome for south side; however, the process of construction has taken its toll on the businesses and students in the area.
Alvin Kirksey is the owner of Alpha & Omega Welding LLC and his business is in Phase Two of the project. When asked about the construction that is occurring on Kissimmee Road and Lake Bradford Kirksey stated, “That there was crazy.”
“The traffic from all those cars coming through this little street was very aggravating.” It is obvious that the construction caused heavy traffic in areas that may not be fit for it. For Kirksey, there were not many positive effects of having so much traffic coming through the area.
“I had to call the city a couple of times to get their signs out of my way,” Kirksey explained. “They were blocking my vision while I did my work. It was just a big inconvenience.”
Larry also spoke with Mrs. Anavilus, the wife of the owner of Discount Transportation and Auto Repair business. She, too, stated there was nothing positive about the traffic.
“Definitely nothing positive,” Anavilus stated. “I used to dread just trying to go get lunch because it would take me forever just to leave the parking lot because of the traffic.”
The heavy flow of traffic didn’t make it any better for the students who are expected to be on time to their 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. classes.
Richannah Chin, a second- year pre-physical therapy student from Ft. Lauderdale, says that she has only taken the Lake Bradford detour for a semester and after the third week realized that she would have to start leaving her home a lot earlier than expected to get to campus.
To get from her apartments, The Boulevard at Tallahassee, to FAMU’s campus it takes her a greater amount of time than it would without the constant traffic. “Usually, it would take me 5-7 minutes to get to campus, but with traffic, it takes 10-15 minutes- pushing 15 minutes.” To be better prepared, she says that she leaves her residence at least 15 to 20 minutes early to avoid being late.
“The issue is that people are usually getting out of class or headed to them because it’s one of the most popular times to have class so there is a lot of traffic. And then I have to find parking. So, the traffic, construction and that are my biggest issues.”
Chambria Gordon, a broadcast journalism student that also attends FAMU, has similar but more extensive traffic holdups than Chin. Gordon lives in Campus Walks Apartments and stated that the new development of student housing in the area gives the future of heavy traffic.
“The new development will make more traffic. They are named Calabasas Apartments and it will be one, two, and three bedrooms apartments… The housing will be for FSU students, but they’re always doing renovations over there and it’s aggravating.”
Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are the days Gordon has her earliest class, which is at 8 a.m. To get to campus she takes a detour route through Frenchtown that still holds a lot of traffic. In her schedule, she stated, “I wake up around 6: 50 a.m. so I leave my house at 7:20 a.m. I don’t experience tardiness because I know the traffic is bad so that’s why I leave early even when I have to go to work. My job is 30 minutes away from here and the traffic is bad going there too.”
Her biggest concerns about the route that she takes are getting held in traffic, the lights, and potholes that are in the street. “The backed- up traffic is ridiculous, especially during Homecoming and game days. The longest I’ve had to be in traffic was at least 30 minutes and I was trying to go to work. FSU is literally, smack in the heart of Tallahassee so the many renovations in the area cause a lot of traffic.”