Bridge to step over I-75 and link massive developments in Gainesville

eda is excited to be a part of the consultant team to provide civil engineering and planning services for Celebration Pointe. A ceremony last week marked the beginning of construction for the bridge over I-75. We’ve posted The Gainesville Sun article reporting on the groundbreaking event.


Celebration Pointe developers on Thursday marked the start of construction of a bridge over Interstate 75 that will link the new mixed-use development to the Butler Plaza expansion to the east.

The overpass will be part of new and expanded roads that will connect Archer Road west of the interstate to Southwest 34th Street at the University of Florida.

About 30 people — including project development professionals, city and county officials, and media — attended a groundbreaking ceremony in biting cold wind on a 100-foot-wide dirt pad that will provide the landing for the bridge into Celebration Pointe.

The span includes four vehicle lanes, a 12-foot-wide Archer Braid Trail lane, a dedicated bus lane and two bicycle lanes — one in each direction.

“I think, obviously, the bridge is a great project, but Celebration Pointe in and of itself is an absolutely fabulous project,” County Commissioner Lee Pinkoson said. “I think it’s going to bring some things to Alachua County that we don’t necessarily have, i.e. the Bass Pro Shops, and they’ve been trying to capture a little bit different market from some of the traditional shopping centers that we have here.

“Between here and over there, I think there’s going to be lots of opportunities,” he said with a gesture toward Butler Plaza.

Site work on the roads in Celebration Pointe is well underway, and utility work has begun, with paving and curbing to start in February and beams going up over I-75 in April or May, said Jonathan Paul, director of planning for the developer.

The bridge is scheduled to be open to thru-traffic in March 2016, said Svein Dyrkolbotn of Celebration Pointe Development Partners.

The bridge creates a new Southwest 30th Road that will connect to Southwest 45th Street — the main road into Celebration Pointe from Archer Road — and to the east will connect to Southwest 38th Terrace through Butler Plaza North and extend north of Southwest 24th Avenue into the West 38 development and the Hull Road extension to Southwest 34th Street at the Hilton University of Florida.

“You pretty much can get to the University of Florida, 34th Street and you never deal with I-75 and Archer, and you never deal with Archer and 34th, our two busiest intersections in the community,” Paul said.

Estimates from traffic models anticipate that 10,000 to 15,000 vehicles a day will take the bypass route, Paul said. Archer Road south of Celebration Pointe sees an average of 28,500 trips per day, which is projected to increase to 40,000 by 2025.

The route also includes an extension of the Archer-Braid Trail through UF that would link to the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail, providing 40 miles of trails from Archer to Hawthorne.

The $12 million bridge will be funded by a 3 percent, 18-year loan from the Florida Department of Transportation State Infrastructure Bank fund. Celebration Pointe will repay the loan through an agreement with the county to provide tax increment funding — or a rebate on property taxes collected from an increase in property values.

The loan agreement includes $1.8 million to the county for engineering and inspection services.

Celebration Pointe was the first transit-oriented development the Alachua County Commission approved in November 2010 under new county policies that push for compact and walkable mixed-use developments linked by a bus rapid transit system. It replaces the road impact fee on new developments with a multimodal transportation fee to fund a portion of the transit service and bicycle and pedestrian paths.

County Growth Management Director Steve Lachnicht, who attended the groundbreaking, called Celebration Pointe a turning point for community development in Alachua County.

Such compact development allows for the county to provide more efficient services at lower cost with higher revenue per acre, he said.

“It’s a significant change from the past,” he said.

“County staff has worked for years on major changes to our comp plan to promote this type of development.”

The bridge and main road will include a dedicated bus lane, although the city of Gainesville no longer is pursuing a bus rapid transit system with dedicated bus lanes because of cost concerns.

The 125-acre development will include 1 million square feet of retail and office space and nearly 1,000 apartments. Tenants announced for phase one to open in fall 2016 include an 80,000-square-foot Bass Pro Shops, a 10-screen Regal Cinemas, a 120-room Hotel Indigo and a 60,000-square-foot office building for Gainesville software and consulting firm Info Tech.

“There will be a lot of exciting announcements coming,” Dyrkolbotn said of other potential tenants.

Dyrkolbotn has developed several apartment complexes in Gainesville, including Campus View, and said he will be building the apartments in Celebration Pointe, including apartments over retail shops along the main street.