Letter: More details for Vilano Beach neighbors

Mayor Nancy Shaver
St Augustine, FL

Dear Historic City News readers:

Thanks for the opportunity to speak candidly with our neighbors in Vilano Beach about the traffic management efforts the city has taken to limit cut-through traffic in the Nelmar neighborhood. As promised, here is a bit more detail about that decision and its impacts for you to share with the Vilano Main Street Association and the beach community.

First, it is clear that we are all in this together. No matter where we reside or the routes we drive, our collective challenge is to manage the effects of our county’s extraordinary growth so as to maintain the livability and character of the place we call home. And that is the primary goal of the City’s mobility plans and projects.

Since 2000, St. Augustine’s population has increased by over 10%. But, in that same amount of time, the Vilano Beach area has grown by 29% to over 5,000 people, one third as large as St. Augustine.  And consider the nearly 6,000 residents in Nocatee, an increase of over 55% in the same period.

We may sometimes think it’s all tourist traffic, when in fact a lot of that traffic is us. Add to the increased volume of traffic, a result of the growing population, the fact that most routes we all take go through St. Augustine. There is not an easy way to bypass the A1A/US1 corridors. There are simply not very many route options.

The City Commission made the development of congestion solutions a top priority two years ago and committed to taking deliberate thoughtful steps to ensure safety and livability in the face of growth and a vibrant tourist economy.

The Nelmar neighborhood is not the only residential area that suffers from traffic passing through. There are neighborhoods in Davis Shores and Lighthouse Park that face the same problem. Data collected there shows that traffic calming and better signage are possible solutions, where in West Augustine a Nelmar-like solution may be warranted.  If it does, we’ll take the right steps.

Other traffic management strategies in the works include resident-only parking and, as in one area in Lincolnville, the introduction of one-way streets, all with the goal of a safer and more livable environment.

Growth and managing its impact is a concern for St. Augustine, and now for all of St. Johns County. The impact on transportation should be addressed when St. Johns County revises its Comprehensive Plan.  The City of St. Augustine is initiating a review of our own Comprehensive Plan to revise and adapt our plans for the coming years. We’ll look for the input and ideas of others, including those who live in or near St. Augustine.

Again, we are all in this together.  I’ve attached questions and answers that I hope provide  helpful information—and please don’t hesitate to let me know if there are any  additional questions we can answer. We will also put this up on the mobility section of the City website for easy future access.

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