Local leaders still divided on Welaunee Boulevard project as construction begins

Freeman

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Construction has begun on Welaunee Boulevard, as part of Blueprint’s Northeast Gateway: Welaunee Boulevard project. The […]

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) – Construction has begun on Welaunee Boulevard, as part of Blueprint’s Northeast Gateway: Welaunee Boulevard project.

The project would extend Welaunee Boulevard by about 6 miles, through I-10, all the way to Bradfordville Road.

The plan has been in the works for several years.

Most local leaders believe it’s worth the investment to reduce traffic on the Northeast side of town.

“It certainly will relieve the congestion which we hear about all the time from those who live in that area,” City Commissioner Curtis Richardson said. “It will accommodate the growth that we know is occurring.”

District 4 County Commissioner Brian Welch is also on board. He represents Northeast Tallahassee and pointed out that the road expansion will help people access the new Northeast Park, which is expected to begin construction sometime next year.

“I think when you look at it from a big picture perspective, this is us getting ahead of our needs,” Welch said. “We know we’re going to have growth there. We know we’re going to have housing there. We’ve got infrastructure coming with parks. We have interstate exchanges coming. And this road will be sort of our contribution to helping facilitate that growth.”

Others, like City Commissioner Jack Porter, say this project isn’t what Tallahassee needs. Porter argues the city and county should be making communities more walkable, rather than building more roads.

“From day one, I’ve been opposed,” Jack Porter told WCTV Wednesday. “This project [is] heinously expensive, way over budget, sprawling roads, that is missing the mark of our community’s needs.”

A map shows plans for Blueprint’s Northeast Gateway: Welaunee Boulevard project.
A map shows plans for Blueprint’s Northeast Gateway: Welaunee Boulevard project.(Blueprint)

City Commissioner Jeremy Matlow and District 5 County Commissioner David O’Keefe also oppose the project.

Blueprint initially estimated the project budget at about $95 million, but that later grew to $134 million. Blueprint cited increases in material costs, construction prices and real estate values as reasons for the increase.

The project is expected to be completed in Spring 2026.

WCTV reached out to all city and county commissioners for comment Wednesday. Here’s what they had to say:

“The total economic impact from the planned development resulting from the Northeast Gateway project is estimated to be between $2.2 and $8.2 billion, representing a sizable return on investment back into our community. This gateway will improve connectivity and reduce traffic congestion, which will greatly benefit residents and help accommodate the area’s continued growth.”

-John Dailey / Tallahassee Mayor

“I am very pleased to see plans that began more than 30 years ago finally being realized. This project is another example of how we are moving our community forward to prepare for future growth and transportation needs.”

– Dianne Williams-Cox / City Commissioner

“I’m disappointed that we are spending $129 million of sales tax dollars for a road that mainly benefits the developers and landowners in its path—a path cutting through our cherished greenways. Like many neighbors, I want us to do better than this.”

– David O’Keefe / County Commissioner, District 5

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