Monday, Oct 20, 2014
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Opinion

Beach traffic is the issue, not parking

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The city of Clearwater and its City Council has signaled loud and clear that it doesn’t care and outright will not listen to its constituents in regards to the problems and needs of our beautiful barrier island. It’s a clear case of an addiction to revenue. The buzzword right now is parking. However, parking is not the No. 1 problem on the beach. It’s traffic.

Yes, the north side of Clearwater Beach could use more parking, but by not fixing the traffic issue first, the city is going to once more turn blind and deaf to the issue of beach traffic. Now the city council is going to exacerbate the issue further by now permitting an additional 520+ cars to come on the north side of Clearwater Beach.

On weekends during the spring and summer, it could take a property tax-paying resident on North Clearwater Beach anywhere from 45–90 minutes to just go to Publix on Island Estates to grocery shop, and then spend that much time or more to get back home. Why? Because we’re sitting in beach traffic. That trip should take no longer than 15 minutes, at any time.

State Road 60 (Gulf to Bay) is a slow-moving parking lot to get on to the beach, sometimes backing up as far back as Keene, some four miles of backed up, beach traffic.

However, the city only visualizes the additional revenue. This new revenue venture of putting in a seven-story parking garage on top of the already existing 124-space parking lot behind the Pelican Walk Shopping Center will increase the city’s precious parking cartel by a whopping 17 percent.

Instead of spending any parking revenue on this proposed parking garage, how about fixing the traffic issue first. Simply, taking out the crosswalks that immediately stop traffic existing the roundabout at the end of State Road 60. Those crosswalks constantly stop traffic in both directions and is clearly not safe for pedestrians.

It’s time to build three pedestrian crossover bridges and take out the crosswalks. The beach is too busy to allow pedestrians the pleasure of nine crosswalks from the roundabout to the north beach roundabout.

In fact, it’s time to take out the roundabout and install a three-way traffic signal. This isn’t our grandparent’s quaint beach anymore.

Ideas like these will immediately alleviate most of the traffic conundrum and then we’ll be happy to accommodate 520-plus more cars on our beautiful beach.

If not, it may be time again for Clearwater Beach to revisit independence in 2016. Enough is enough.

Chaz Roberts

Clearwater

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