The Florida Department of Transportation District 2 selected Hanson to prepare a project development and environment study to examine the feasibility of adding capacity to State Road 26 to improve mobility, emergency evacuation and economic development while preserving the historic district of downtown Newberry, Florida.
The SR 26 Corridor serves as the main access route from the city of Newberry and counties west of Newberry to the city of Gainesville, the major employment center for the region. The traffic congestion entering downtown Newberry has hindered economic growth in the area and has caused safety and quality of life concerns for city leaders and residents.
A proposed one-way pair system leading into downtown using existing roadway corridors to minimize property impacts was the preferred alternative, as identified from a comprehensive study and extensive public involvement opportunities with local stakeholders. This concept will improve traffic flow through this congested corridor, provide economic growth opportunities, and cause the least impacts to the downtown's existing facilities, businesses, historical properties, and the environment without using a conventional widening or a bypass concept.
The preferred alternative has received public support and endorsement from local government leaders and other interested parties. The proposed project will convert State Road 26/West Newberry Road and Northwest 1st Avenue from two-way, two-lane roadways into a one-way pair system, with two lanes in each direction. The project will increase roadway capacity and include numerous safety improvements and traffic calming measures, such as sidewalks, bicycle lanes, on-street parking, and a roundabout.
Hanson prepared alternatives that included adding bike lanes through the downtown area with a connection to an adjacent proposed rail trail and area-wide bike routes, as well as addressing pedestrian crosswalk safety while maintaining traffic flow along State Road 26 and at the major intersection crossing of U.S. Route 27. Hanson developed a 3D animated drive-through video to show realistic views of the travel lanes, pedestrian walkways and bicycle lanes.