With the on-campus Publix set to open on Dec. 3, the logistics that go into planning the opening of a store of its caliber are not as cut and dry as a tray of cold cuts.
The intersection of Palm Drive and Fletcher Avenue is already a high-traffic area, especially during the peak rush hours. With the introduction of a fully-functioning grocery store that is open to the public in the area as well, congestion issues may worsen come spring.
According to Aaron Nichols, the assistant director of administrative services, additional construction is underway in an attempt to ease the heavy traffic in the area.
“USF did a long-term traffic impact study for this area of campus and is in the process of continuing the construction of the Laurel Drive extension within campus,” Nichols said in an email to The Oracle. “The project includes a roundabout and a new campus entry at 46th St. and Fletcher to accommodate the Village, Publix, and future growth on and off campus. This construction is occurring right now and is targeted for completion in April 2019.”
That is not the only additional entrance to campus being built, however. Nichols also said that there is a “right in/right out” entrance being built as a part of the Publix project, which will serve to provide direct access to the store.
Audrey Clarke, the public information representative for the USF Police Department (UP), said that drivers and pedestrians should avoid the area, especially during high-traffic times.
“If individuals are not going to Publix and do not have to be in that area, we would say avoid that area, especially during the peak hours, around 5 p.m.,” Clarke said. “During the other times, we will just have to see what the traffic conditions are like during that time and adjust accordingly.”
However, it is not all about traffic for UP, as they also have to prepare for responding to 911 calls at the store.
“When it comes to 911 calls, USF Police will respond to any 911 calls (to the on-campus Publix),” Clarke said. “If the 911 calls come from a land line, they will automatically come to the police department’s dispatch. Sometimes, if individuals are using a cell phone, it goes to a cell phone tower, but any agency that receives it, if it is an incident on campus, it will still be routed to USF police.”
Nichols directed any questions about what is going to be done to prevent students, faculty and staff from parking in the Publix parking lot while they go to class or work and what measures are going to be taken to ensure that shopping carts do not leave the store grounds to Publix.
However, Brian West, the media and community relations manager for Publix, could not be reached for comment by the time of publication.
Nichols said that USF and Publix are working closely together to be sure that they are on top of any potential issues and are looking forward to the store’s opening in the spring semester.
“Our agreement with Publix was overseen and will be monitored by senior Business and Finance personnel at USF,” Nichols said. “Our Facilities Management team continues to work closely with the Publix team on this project. USF and Publix have very open channels of communication and work collaboratively to address any issues related to the project.”