Killearn residents push back against Northeast Gateway route

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By: Monica Casey | WCTV Eyewitness News
August 22, 2019

Residents in the Killearn Neighborhood are concerned about potential traffic and speeding on its streets from Blueprint's NortheastGateway project.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- Residents in the Killearn Neighborhood are asking Blueprint to route the Northeast Gateway away from their streets, due to concerns about traffic and speeding.

Phase one of the project is an extension of Welaunee Boulevard from Fleischmann Road over I-10. It will run north to connect at an intersection with a two-lane extension of Shamrock Street South.

Killearn residents are hoping Blueprint will alter the route to run Welaunee Boulevard out to Roberts.

Gloria Arias said many in the neighborhood recognize the need for a major interchange, but want the route away from their streets.

She said speeding and traffic have been problems in the area for years.

"We've gone to the expense of hiring off duty police patrol to try to keep the speeding in check because we realize that TPD and the Sheriff's Department are busy with more serious crimes, but that's how out of control it has really gotten," said Arias.

The project will provide a new regional roadway.

"That road will connect Capital Circle Northeast up to Centreville Road. It actually includes a new overpass over I-10 which could support a new interchange," said Autumn Calder, the director of Blueprint.

Welaunee Boulevard is planned to be four lanes in spots, reducing traffic at the Thomasville Road and Interstate 10 interchange, as well as on Miccosukee and Centreville Roads.

"Those are two of our canopy roads in our community, so by building this new Welaunee Boulevard, we'll help to reduce the pressure on expanding the Miccosukee and Centreville Roads," said Calder.

According to the website dedicated to the project, the goals are to "improve regional mobility and enhance connectivity for motorized and non-motorized users," and "reduce traffic congestion on surrounding roadways resulting from development on adjacent properties."

The need from the road also stems from the 7,000 acre Welaunee Critical Area Plan, which will result in increased congestion.

The project has economic benefits, creating a desirable area for homes and recreational activities, as well as new greenway space.

Arias is hoping Blueprint could use an alternate route, taking the extension to Roberts Road.

"It gives a nice roomy east-west parkway for which to travel north and south with whatever arterial road you choose to use," said Arias.

She has even created bumper stickers.

"It's Killearn safety. It doesn't matter whether they're coming at us from the north, the south, the east, or the west," said Arias. "We are a heavy pedestrian traffic population."

Blueprint is taking residents' concerns under consideration, and Arias said she does feel that residents are being listened to.

Blueprint is currently conducting a traffic analysis in the area that will be published in December.

"We hope to develop a concept that can help to address some of their traffic concerns that they have now, and we definitely
don't want to build a road that makes traffic concerns any worse in their neighborhood," said Calder.

Construction on the project is not set to begin until late 2022, after multiple other studies.

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