Thursday, April 07, 2016

Good Record Editorial on Anastasia Blvd., BUT …..

Good editorial on the merits. I like the idea of parking on the boulevard, as discussed in the 2013 Mobility Institute. It makes little sense to have a four lane state road end at a two lane bridge, with bottlenecks, pollution, noise and carbon footprint impacts. There are 100 small businesses there, and the future could be an Art Deco district with walkable, bicycle-friendly fun, including outdoor restaurants, IF there is on-street parking. This would make it more of a neighborhood and less a Bridge of Lions loading ramp. Great idea!

However, the editorial does not explain itself when it speaks vaguely of debates on the Internet (Facebook) without identifying either the causus belli or the dramatis personae.

At issue is HEATHER SUNDERLAND NEVILLE, spouse of Commissioner ODD TODD NEVILLE (R-PROCTORVILLE), making it seem like a "done deal" and acting like Republican Lord of All She Surveys.

It's time for her to stop representing herself and her husband's CPA clients, an appearance of impropriety and conflict of interest.

Hopefully the NEVILLES will de-emphasize the use of the first-person pronouns (I, me or my), the Hillary Clinton-like bossiness and Donald Trump-like bully-in-achina chop that makes so many people bristle at the Nevilles' ideas (some of which are worthwhile, like this one0.

Editorial: Anastasia Boulevard: A road too wide?
Posted: April 6, 2016 - 11:47pm | Updated: April 7, 2016 - 12:03am

Anastasia Boulevard is anything but static. A dictionary will tell you that means bodies at rest or forces in balance.

The Boulevard is alive with growth, new business, spiffying-up and promise. Likewise, neighborhoods framing it, North and South Davis Shores, are turning over quickly, with new residents and rampant renovation of the classic Florida-style homes.

It is, quite simply, a very hot property, from Inlet Drive and the Alligator Farm Zoological Park on the east to the Bayfront on the west. And Anastasia Boulevard is the aorta through which the lifeblood of that community pumps.

There’s a tiff ensuing, predominately on social media, and it’s simmering. Seems some folks are accusing other folks of a surreptitious effort to take control of the Boulevard. And wrongly, the residents and business are taking sides in an issue that isn’t one.

If you believe social media, and we contend that’s generally a fool’s errand, there’s an effort afoot to close down one lane of the divided four-lane highway. The thinking seems to be that the businesses — over 100 at last count on that stretch of the Boulevard — are scheming to take those leftover lanes on the north and south sides of the roadway, and turn them into angled parking — good for business.

Cyber-critics contend the businesses are thinking only of themselves, not the traffic flow and historic style of the road — good for residents. And safety has been thrown into the mix — tragically punctuated by the death of a 16-year-old skateboarder there last week.

Narrowing four-lane roads is nothing new. It’s called a road diet — really. The Federal Highway Administration has info galore on its website. It says there can be several good outcomes from shrinking four-lane roads to two. And yes, one is opening up more on-street parking; another is added safety.

But there are others. Shrinking the roadway can calm traffic — the operative word here is can. Road diets can make room for better turning lanes, bicycle paths, landscaping; or extending the frontage on either side for pedestrian walkways, street lamps and, yes, maybe bistro-style tables for restaurants. The whole concept is called “complete streets” and Google will get you an eyeful there as well.

But the geography of Davis Shores adds extra layers of complication, not the least of which is a two-lane bridge feeding into or off of it. It’s a pinch point that “stacks” traffic in patterns not common to most road diet projects. And, without several traffic lights or roundabouts — both adding to backup and congestion — it’s hard to imagine how residents on either side of the Boulevard could cross into their neighborhoods if stuck on the opposite/wrong side of the one-way, one-lane road. It could be a traffic morass.

It’s important to consider that Anastasia Boulevard is a state road. Anything that happens goes through the Florida Department of Transportation — which does little quickly or without numbing study and public input (some might add repetition and waste). Consider the years of work on the May Street-San Marco intersection, and it’s not yet a done deal, even in planning. That project is a child’s puzzle from an engineering standpoint compared to the Rubik’s Cube of the Boulevard.

Perhaps it’s a good thing the discussion has begun. But whatever happens on the Boulevard will be years away, at least. The issues and dynamics of the plan will certainly be changed by then. Until that tomorrow, taking sides, or taking the whole thing too seriously, is your prerogative. But it seems a waste of the energy and collaboration that makes the community so special today.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I LOVE THIS! The St Augustine Record claims that existing infrastructure should be shrunk, not increased to accommodate the hundred thousand new residents expected in the County in the next two years. Perhaps, The Record should nex tpropose the controlled demolition of the Bridge Of Lions as a way to cut down on traffic congestion downtown. Or reduce the four lanes of traffic of St. Route 16 down to two. Yeah, that will work!