Residents opposed to the City’s decision to erect barricades blocking access to three public streets notified Historic City News that the public is invited to participate when they hold a protest tomorrow, Saturday, April 1st.
However, resident Lisa Lloyd says their frustration is no joke.
“Closing access to Magnolia, Douglas and East San Carlos has resulted in a significant increase in traffic backup that frequently extends east, past the Usina (Vilano Beach) Bridge,” Lloyd told local reporters. “We are asking protesters to meet at the May Street and North Magnolia Avenue intersection from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday. Please wear red to signify red tail lights — stuck in traffic.“
In this week’s City Commission meeting, one Commissioner said there’s not much more that the Commissioners can do about congestion. Lloyd says, “yes, there is”.
Despite knowing that the FDOT project to improve the May Street and San Marco Avenue intersection is imminent, the City chose to close off three streets that alleviated congestion on May Street.
They created a “right turn only” from North Magnolia Avenue and Douglas Street and have created a more dangerous situation with the illegal and now unexpected traffic regularly flowing out of those two streets and turning left, heading east. Or, as was the case in one accident last week, cutting straight across to South Magnolia Avenue.
The higher volume also consists of residents of the Nelmar Terrace neighborhood who must remain on May Street when they return home from Publix, the beach, or work. Compound that with other neighborhood-related traffic like lawn services, and deliveries, who also remain on May St., contributing to higher volume.
The barricades have had a direct impact on the quality of life and safety of those who must travel the May Street corridor, especially the residents of Vilano Beach and Camachee Cove for whom May Street is the only way to get to and from their homes.
With the upcoming FDOT redesign expected to improve the May Street and San Marco Avenue intersection, why the City would close off three public streets is particularly confounding.
The barricades went up just prior to City elections on November 8, giving the appearance that they were politically motivated, addressing the request of city residents at the expense of County residents unable to vote in City elections.
Coming right on the heels of Hurricane Matthew, which affected Vilano Beach severely, for the City to add additional hardship to already struggling residents of the barrier island is particularly callous.