FAMU Way extension reaches another milestone
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
As a member of the community planning committee, Darryl Jones saw all of the sketches pertaining to the development and extension of FAMU Way.
He watched as the project unfolded, too. All in so much disbelief that he couldn’t contain during ceremonies this past Friday marking completion of another phase.
Jones stood on a bright green artificial turf with a giant spider-web like dome behind him. A swing set and several other playground apparatus lined the playground area where a crowd had gathered for a celebration of the milestone.
“I had no idea that this park would be this beautiful,” Jones said. “This green. This lovely.”
The widening and extension of FAMU Way, which starts at Adams Street and will be connected to Lake Bradford, has been on-going for almost two years. The latest phase runs just under a quarter mile west from Wahnish Way to Pinellas Street.
Both sides of the street are decorated with flowers and shrubbery with extra wide sidewalks. It’s lined with benches, water stations and other amenities to encourage walking and biking.
“This is what an All-America city looks like,” said mayor Andrew Gillum. “This is what an All-America city does. We design event spaces to bring together parts of our community. We get to play together.”
Not far from where the playground sits, is an area that will be available to vendors. Additional plans include structures that will commemorate the Black history that was made along the western section of the street, said Autumn Calder, a representative of Blue Print 2000.
”This is one of the greatest days in Tallahassee, when you’re talking about building bridges and tearing down walls,” said state representative Alan Williams. “Here we are celebrating FAMU Way that connects Leon High School (off Tennessee St.) to the Pineview-Providence community, right off Lake Bradford.
“If this isn’t about tearing down walls and building bridges and connecting our community; what is.”
Throughout the planning stages, representatives from FAMU, the community and businesses in Railroad Square had input in the project. Gillum praised the effort.
“The beneficiary of this road is going to be all citizens of Tallahassee, as it will not only serve to move traffic but it will also serve as a gathering place for this community,” the mayor said.
The extension ends at a round-about that now serves as a back entrance to the shops in Railroad Square. Lily Kaye, owner of the Railroad Square property, applauded the government and construction crews for minimizing disruption of traffic through the square, saying it was worth it because it could potentially generate more business for the stores.
“Looking around and seeing it’s a reality is almost unreal for us,” Kaye said.
The next phase of the project, which is being funded by city and county government and money raised from a Blueprint 2000 penny tax, will connect FAMU Way to the head of the St. Marks Trail at Gamble Street. The final phase will go from there to Lake Bradford.
When completed along with a pedestrian bridge being built over Monroe Street, Cascades Park will be connected to FAMU Way. That will create a path from Franklin Boulevard that covers four miles.
“If this doesn’t bring us together, I don’t know what does,” said county commissioner Brian Desloge. “It doesn’t happen, though without a lot of teamwork.”