Gaines Street Reopened

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By: Lanetra Bennett
August 8, 2014

Tallahassee, FL - 'Round and 'round we go.

The Roundabout at Gaines Street and Woodward Avenue opens to traffic for the first time.

The opening of Gaines Street comes as even better news for businesses located along that road.

"Finally." Says, Zac Rittberg. He was glad to hear that the 'road closed' signs on Gaines Street were coming down. He says it's been a long summer trying to get to work.

Rittberg says, "Sometimes I forget it's closed and I plan on using it and then I got to change my routes. It just ruins my entire day."

Phase III, the final phase, of the Gaines Street improvement project began in May. The road was closed from Lake Bradford Road / Stadium Drive to Railroad Avenue.

Business owners in the area say the construction hurt business.

Carolina Leon works at Violet Nails Salon & Spa. She says, "At first, we had issues with the signs not being big enough. There wasn't enough advertisement from the City to know that business was still open or how to get through here. So, all the people just wouldn't come."

A roundabout has been installed at Gaines and Woodward Avenue for smoother traffic flow. Sidewalks, curbs, and gutters were added...hanging lights, and landscaping.

Tallahassee resident Jesse Lockhart says, "Any extra ways for people to get in and out through town is always going to be great. i know there is a certain amount of frustration that comes along with road development. But, anytime that road development is over, there's a sense of relief."

Workers at Violet Nails are so happy about the road opening that they are offering a 10 percent discount on services at least $20 from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday.

The finishing touch on the construction project still has to be installed. A unique, colorful, glass and light sculpture will go in the center of the roundabout. The piece is the work of the director of the FSU Master Craftsman Studio, which is located at the roundabout.

News Release: City of Tallahassee
August 6, 2014

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The segment of Gaines Street between Lake Bradford Road/Stadium Drive and Railroad Avenue will reopen to traffic in time for the evening rush hour on Friday, August 8.

With the opening of the roundabout at Gaines Street and Woodward Avenue, the final phase of the Gaines Street project is nearing completion. The finishing touch to the roadway will be the installation this fall of Declaration, a unique, colorful, glass and light sculpture in the center of the roundabout. The piece is the work of renowned artist Kenneth von Roenn, director of the Florida State University Master Craftsman Studio, which is located at the roundabout.

The idea of creating a destination district on Gaines Street started more than 20 years ago with a group of citizens. Spurred by this idea and continued citizen support, the Tallahassee City Commission, with financial assistance from Leon County and the State of Florida, committed to investing in major infrastructure improvements along the corridor.

"When considering taking on a traditional roadway project in a non-traditional way, there are often debates with those who prefer the status quo. We experienced that on this project. However, thanks to forward-thinking citizens and leaders, the bold vision for the Gaines Street corridor has gone from concept to successful reality," Mayor John Marks said. "The area has transformed into a destination district that is growing by leaps and bounds with spaces to eat, shop, play and stay, while maintaining its independent spirit and eclectic vibe."

Since 2009, the City of Tallahassee has been working on infrastructure improvements including replacing aging underground utilities, reconstructing the roadway and adding enhanced landscaping and pedestrian amenities. The goal was to create a pedestrian friendly area with the necessary infrastructure to allow increased development and provide more reliable service to existing customers. The overall vision was to create a vibrant urban corridor with public art displays, businesses and live/work spaces. The public investment in Gaines Street has helped generate more than $204 million in new, private development in the district

While new development is creating more retail and residential opportunities in the area, the heart of Gaines Street has and continues to be its strong local business base. From automotive repair and fabulous fashions to fun night spots and tasty treats, Gaines Street and the larger All Saints District are home to many long-standing, locally owned and operated businesses that have remained dedicated to the community throughout construction.

"Local businesses are the backbone of our community, and the Gaines Street area continues to be a major hub for local commerce," Mayor Marks said. "By supporting these and other local businesses, we support our town and our neighbors. Of every dollar spent at a local business, nearly 70 cents stays in our local economy. That's a return-on-investment worth making."

The work associated with the Gaines Street revitalization has been a multi-year, multi-discipline, multi-jurisdictional project. Funding came from a variety of sources including $17 million from the City and $10.7 million from Leon County. An additional $7 million came from the State of Florida.

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