Slow Way is a tiny stretch of road, not even the length of a football field, at the back end of a Seminole Woods neighborhood at the south end of Palm Coast. Some residents there want the road permanently closed. This morning, the Palm Coast City Council voted 5-0 to do just that. But not without some opposition.
The sliver of road connects Slow Drift Turn to County Road 325, which crosses County Road 330 before ending at the once-infamous White Eagle Saloon intersection with U.S. 1. That intersection was among the county’s deadliest crash locations until the state Department of Transportation replaced its jagged vectors with a roundabout two years ago. It’s been quiet since.
But the link-up into the otherwise quiet Seminole Woods neighborhood allows some traffic to use 325 and Slow Way to give the lie to that street’s name. It’s been used as a shortcut.
“Slow Way has been a known concern as a roadway that brought aggressive long distance traffic through the surrounding neighborhoods,” a city memo to the council states. “Evidence of the aggressive driving included ruts in the northeast quadrant of Slow Way at Slow Drift Turn. Drivers left behind ruts from leaving the roadway making a right hand turn. In the previous 15 months, the City had replaced a knocked down stop sign and post in that quadrant four times. The residents stated they have made this same appeal to the City, approximately every two years, for the last 15 years.”
One resident of Sloganeer Trail said this morning he could not find anyone he knew who’d gotten the emailed invitation by the city for a neighborhood meeting. He said Slow Way is used by neighbors on County Roads 325 and 330. “Are they being considered also? Have they been surveyed? He asked. “The residents, myself included, often jog, walk and use Slow Way to access 330 and 325, because they’re lightly traveled roads,” he said. “For people who are using walking, bicycles, golf carts to travel that road frequently, what accommodations will be made?” He described the closure as a “huge impact” to local residents.
But another resident who lives on Slow Way sees it differently. “Children have been almost hit getting off the school buses,” she said. “The residents’ property is being destroyed, my neighbor has replaced his fence seven or eight times, my other neighbor has replaced his mailbox annually from people cutting through too fast on a road that is not capable of handling that sort of traffic. There’s incredible noise. There are semis that come through there, I have pictures, I have sat there and taken pictures of semis coming down 325. Those residential streets are not built for that kind of transportation.”
She said there’s been neighborhood meetings going back to October to discuss the issue.
Morton said the issue goes back many years and was raised with previous administrations. He said he received several emails from residents to visit the area, which was done with staffers and with Council member Nick Klufas, including a meeting with some two dozen residents, examinations of traffic patterns, public notifications of subsequent meetings and so on.
“We used our utility billing email addresses and geofenced the area of Slow Drift and Sloganeer,” Jason DeLorenzo, the city’s development director, said, “that produced 40 email addresses. We emailed them previous to our second on-site neighborhood meeting, which we held on the corner of Slow Way, then again we used the same email addresses again and sent out a notification for this meeting,” meaning today’s, “to make sure we touched as many residents as we could.” But not many people attended, either on Feb. 28 or today: there were just two people at the meeting held on the side of the road.
The city will be installing a gate and additional rubber-coated black fencing on either side to keep drivers from attempting to drive around the fence. There will be a 30-inch, Z-shaped opening in the gate for pedestrians and cyclists. “That’s to stop motorcycles from going through,” DeLorenzo said. “But pedestrians and bicycles will be able to go through.” The gate will also have a lock box that can be used by emergency responders to open it so vehicles can use the street when necessary.