Mon07282014

Last updateTue, 22 Jul 2014 9pm

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Alachua I-75interchange construction to begin in 2014

W_-_I75_improvements-2_copy 

Shown as it is currently configured, the FDOT plans to add a second southbound access ramp (asindicated by the leftmost arrow) to the Interstate-75 in Alachua, which will limit the need for opposing traffic streams on 441 to cross paths before connecting to I-75.

ALACHUA – The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) held a public workshop on Thursday, May 31 for the planned improvements to the Interstate 75 interchange at U.S. Highway 441 in Alachua.

At the workshop, held in the City of Alachua commission chambers, residents viewed plans for the improvement to the interchange, made comments and posed questions to the attending FDOT staffers, who also gave a presentation describing the project’s estimated cost and timetable.

The FDOT has committed $11.9 million to the right-of -way, design and construction of the project’s first phase, which will add a second southbound access ramp to the interstate, limiting the need for opposing  traffic streams on 441 to cross paths before connecting to I-75.

Gina Busscher, the public information director for FDOT, said the $11.9 million of state and federal money has been committed based on a FDOT study, which estimated the cost of the project.  Busscher said the actual cost of the project will not be known until the FDOT opens bidding to contractors in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.

Much of the traffic congestion surrounding the I-75 interchange in Alachua is due to interstate accesses and exits being constrained only to the north side of U.S. Highway 441.  But improvements proposed by FDOT would overcome some of those limitations.

“The department is interested in these improvements because they would reduce traffic congestion and accidents caused by motorists entering and exiting the interstate in that area,” Busscher said in a previous interview.

The “ideal interchange” as determined by the FDOT would add access ramps which enable opposing traffic streams on 441 to remain completely separated before connecting to I-75.  These additions would cost a projected $16.5 million more, bringing the estimated cost of the “ultimate build-out” to $28.4 million.

Busscher said the remaining $16.5 million has not yet been committed by the FDOT, but might be in the future depending on what funds are available to the department.

Bill Henderson, district planning and environmental manager for the FDOT, said after construction begins on the project in 2014, Alachua residents can expect to be able to use the new interchange ramp within 18-24 months.

A part of the proposal also includes the construction of a park and ride facility in the same vicinity as the proposed access ramp.

If opened in 2016, the new ramp would be estimated to serve some 4,800 vehicles per day according to an FDOT analysis.  A 2009 study of the interchange showed that each day, roughly 24,000 vehicles traveled along U.S. 441 in the vicinity of the interchange.  Meanwhile, 55,000 vehicles were logged on I-75 just south of the interchange.

Henderson said the FDOT has looked into adding a new interchange to I-75 at Peggy Road/County Road 2054, and that the project has an estimated cost of $31.1 million.

Busscher said the Peggy Road interchange is a plan reserved for several years in the future.

“That project is not yet funded and isn’t even thought about right now,” Busscher said.

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Alachua I-75interchange construction to begin in 2014

 

By DANIEL ELSESSER

Today Reporter

 

ALACHUA – The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) held a public workshop on Thursday, May 31 for the planned improvements to the Interstate 75 interchange at U.S. Highway 441 in Alachua.

At the workshop, held in the City of Alachua commission chambers, residents viewed plans for the improvement to the interchange, made comments and posed questions to the attending FDOT staffers, who also gave a presentation describing the project’s estimated cost and timetable.

The FDOT has committed $11.9 million to the right-of -way, design and construction of the project’s first phase, which will add a second southbound access ramp to the interstate, limiting the need for opposing  traffic streams on 441 to cross paths before connecting to I-75.

Gina Busscher, the public information director for FDOT, said the $11.9 million of state and federal money has been committed based on a FDOT study, which estimated the cost of the project.  Busscher said the actual cost of the project will not be known until the FDOT opens bidding to contractors in the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2014.

Much of the traffic congestion surrounding the I-75 interchange in Alachua is due to interstate accesses and exits being constrained only to the north side of U.S. Highway 441.  But improvements proposed by FDOT would overcome some of those limitations.

“The department is interested in these improvements because they would reduce traffic congestion and accidents caused by motorists entering and exiting the interstate in that area,” Busscher said in a previous interview.

The “ideal interchange” as determined by the FDOT would add access ramps which enable opposing traffic streams on 441 to remain completely separated before connecting to I-75.  These additions would cost a projected $16.5 million more, bringing the estimated cost of the “ultimate build-out” to $28.4 million.

Busscher said the remaining $16.5 million has not yet been committed by the FDOT, but might be in the future depending on what funds are available to the department.

Bill Henderson, district planning and environmental manager for the FDOT, said after construction begins on the project in 2014, Alachua residents can expect to be able to use the new interchange ramp within 18-24 months.

A part of the proposal also includes the construction of a park and ride facility in the same vicinity as the proposed access ramp.

If opened in 2016, the new ramp would be estimated to serve some 4,800 vehicles per day according to an FDOT analysis.  A 2009 study of the interchange showed that each day, roughly 24,000 vehicles traveled along U.S. 441 in the vicinity of the interchange.  Meanwhile, 55,000 vehicles were logged on I-75 just south of the interchange.

Henderson said the FDOT has looked into adding a new interchange to I-75 at Peggy Road/County Road 2054, and that the project has an estimated cost of $31.1 million.

Busscher said the Peggy Road interchange is a plan reserved for several years in the future.

“That project is not yet funded and isn’t even thought about right now,” Busscher said.

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A dunk for a good cause

W_-_Hitchcocks_Military  Local Attorney Darryl Tompkins (right) winds up to throw a ball in hopes of sinking Alachua Mayor Gib Coerper (left) in a dunk tank during a Memorial Day celebration at Hitchcock’s Market on Saturday, May 26.  The humiliation was all for a good cause as proceeds from the event benefited the Military Support Group of Alachua County.  The celebration also featured an ice slide for youngsters to cool off in the Florida heat, a jump castle, hot dog wagon and fresh cooked ribs. Add a comment Add a comment

Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway Event

AC_Beyond2012E  ALACHUA COUNTY - The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department is holding the 18th Annual Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway on Saturday, May 5, 2012, beginning at 8 a.m., at the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station (5125 NE 63rd Avenue, 2 miles north of 39th Avenue, off Waldo Road).

The recycled paint will be given away on a first-come, first-served basis and will be available in 5 gallon pails with six colors to choose from: off white, beige, gray, terra cotta, green and blue. There is a 10 gallon limit per resident.

The event will distribute 3,600 gallons of recycled latex paint to community organizations, civic groups and people with special needs, free of charge. The paint can be used for homes and businesses that cannot afford the cost of new paint. It is suitable for either interior or exterior usage. The latex paint is collected throughout the year by the Hazardous Waste Program and shipped to a paint manufacturer where it is blended and repackaged into a 75% post consumer paint.

"A total of over 62,000 gallons of recycled paint has been provided to Alachua County residents since the inception of the program in 1994" said Kurt Seaburg, Hazardous Waste Coordinator for the Alachua County Environmental Protection Department. "The program began as a means of assisting homeowners and agencies beautify their property while recycling a product that still has value. The program has been highly successful and quite popular with County residents."

For any resident that is not able to attend the event, non-recycled free paint of varying quality and quantity which is dropped off by residents who no longer need it is available at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center's Recycle/Reuse Area. Residents can pick up some of this paint and other household products during normal business hours: Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon.

For more information about the Recycled Latex Paint Giveaway, contact the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center at 352-334-0440.

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There's an app for that

Parents can track student progress

AC_Beyond2012E

GAINESVILLE – Parents who use Androids can now access their child’s grades, test scores, attendance and other school-related information through a new app offered free of charge.

The app ties into the already existing Parent Portal system, which has been expanding throughout Alachua County schools for the last two years. Currently all local middle and high schools and all but one elementary school are on Parent Portal. The final school should be on the system by the end of this year, and the plan is to have Meadowbrook Elementary School up and running soon after the school opens.

An app for users of iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices has been available since September.

About 5,700 Alachua County parents have signed up for the Parent Portal system. Nearly twice as many students have logged on to view their own data.

With the app, Android and iPhone users no longer have to log on Parent Portal through a browser on their laptops or desktops. The new app gives them quicker access from more places and it also allows those with more than one child in school to switch easily from one child’s page to another.

Another advantage of the app is that it allows parents to set their phones to receive alerts—when a new test grade comes in, for example, or if a student is absent.

Parents who have already logged onto Parent Portal can load the app for free by clicking on the Available on the Amazon App Store for Android icon on the Portal page.

Parents who have not yet signed up for the Parent Portal can do so by visiting their child’s school. They’ll need to fill out a simple authorization form, verify their identity and will then be provided with a secure access code. Parents do not need to have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch to access the Parent Portal, just a computer with internet access.

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Take advantage of license-free fishing Saturday in Florida’s fresh waters

AC_Beyond2012E The possibilities for taking advantage of the upcoming license-free fishing day, Saturday, April 7, in Florida are almost endless. That’s because people of all ages can cast their lines into 3 million acres of lakes, ponds and reservoirs and 12,000 miles of fishable rivers, streams and canals.

The hardest part might be picking your destination.

These abundant resources, coupled with responsible freshwater fish management, are why Florida is known as the “Fishing Capital of the World.”

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) scheduled  the first of four license-free recreational fishing days on this holiday weekend so more people will have the chance to get out and try their luck. Plus, this weekend coincides with a productive freshwater fishing period, when the weather is usually pleasant. Many of Florida’s recreational sport fishes, such as black bass, bluegill and redear sunfish, move into the shallows to spawn during spring, making them more available for anglers to catch.

Besides enjoying the fun of reeling in a fish, people find that recreational fishing is a good motivator to enjoy the great outdoors. In fact, fishing is a prime reason lots of folks get outside in the first place.

Fishing is a low-cost, wholesome form of entertainment, which is why the FWC offers four days when a recreational fishing license is not needed. The FWC also made June 2 and Sept. 1 license-free saltwater fishing days and set June 9 as the second license-free freshwater fishing day. These days coincide with a holiday weekend, National Fishing and Boating Week or open-harvest seasons for popular bay scallops, lobster and king mackerel.

All other bag limit, season and size restrictions apply on these dates for recreational, not commercial, fishing.

To make your fishing day successful, check out My FWC.com/Fishing for freshwater fishing tips, locations and rules.

So escape the hustle and bustle Saturday by telling everyone you’ve “gone fishing.” But don’t forget to take your kids and spouse and friends to share the fun.

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