Change is coming
City presents proposed plans for FAMU Way roundabout
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook Staff Writer
Since the opening of FAMU Way seven years ago, the landscape has undergone a lot of changes that have enhanced the 1.5 mile-trek.
One more change is coming that would affect the driving pattern in an area that is becoming a busy intersection. Plans for adding a roundabout at the intersection of Adams Street and FAMU Way were unveiled last Tuesday at an open house. A signal currently controls traffic flow at the intersection.
Business and home owners in nearby neighborhoods were invited to bring their input to Centerpoint Church, located nearby the intersection. The turnout was sparse but those who showed up supported the change.
“Do I wish it was Tallahassee of the 1970’s, yes,” said Sid Cooper who grew up on Golf Terrace, a short distance from where the roundabout is planned. “But I’m happy with it here.”
As owner of a plot of land just yards from where the roundabout it planned, Cooper has vested interest in development in the area. He expects the upgrade to boost the coast of his property.
Seeing the plans changed his perception of the area that he recalled being mostly industrial.
“I always thought it was the red-head step child,” Cooper said. “Nobody came down here.”
In addition to the roundabout, a stretch of FAMU Way from MLK Boulevard to South Monroe Street will include sidewalks. The portion of roadway between Adams and Monroe streets was renamed FAMU Way in 2012, changing it from Oakland Avenue.
Eric Gooch, a public infrastructure engineer with the City of Tallahassee, said any suggestions that were left at the open house, will be considered.
Peter Grasel, who lives on Gadsden Street, less than a mile away from where the roundabout is planned, said the traffic flow could take some getting used to. Maneuvering it could be challenging when traffic is busy, he said.
However, Pershing Street resident John Sheetz welcomed the idea. He and his family often walk in the area and having a roundabout should give pedestrians more leeway, he said.
“It’s going make traffic flow better and sidewalks better so we are very much in favor,” he said.
A few other options were considered before the city settled on the roundabout, Gooch said.
“The roundabout was a really good option so we explored that more,” he said. “The more we looked at that, the roundabout really fits future traffic needs at that intersection and works the best now and in the future.”
The roundabout is Phase IV of the FAMU Way Roadway Improvement Project.
Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency is also involved with development of FAMU Way, focusing on the historic trail. That features a playground, a music park and a skate park and a park around Coal Chute Pond. Blueprint has also added murals and sculptures, an ongoing project that honors individuals and neighborhoods surrounding FAMU Way.
When the roundabout is added, it will be the fourth along the roadway that intersects Lake Bradford on the west end.
Having the roundabout will help to calm traffic in an area that is seeing increasing traffic, Gooch said.
“Imagine a green light and cars flowing at whatever the posted speed is; say Monroe Streets is 35 (miles per hour),” he said. “Typically we design roundabouts for a 15 to 20 (miles per hour) speed. It helps create breaks in traffic because you want people to slow down going in. It also helps create breaks in traffic for pedestrians as well.”
No specific timeline was given for starting the roadway project, but Devan Leavins of the city’s communications office suggested it could be in 2025. When it comes, it will add to the quality of life in the area, he said.
“We are connecting our community,” Leavins said. “I think that’s a big part of it. Everything we do we are trying to make it better for all of our citizens. If you saw what FAMU Way was 10 years ago, you saw an open ditch. Now we have a beautiful area where people in the community can come to. They can gather there (and) they can walk.”