For Palm Coast, Florida Park Drive’s Heavy Traffic Is an Old Bane Without Ready Solutions
FlaglerLive | January 26, 2015
Florida Park Drive is the traffic bane of Palm Coast. The two-lane north-south road demarcates the F Section to the west and the C Section to the east, running from Palm Coast Parkway to Palm Harbor Parkway. Unlike almost all other streets in the city, Florida Park Drive is both a collector road, taking traffic from more than a dozen streets, and a residential road whose homes and front yards hug the street, leaving little room for sidewalks, play—or expansion.
“Florida Park Drive is one of the few, I would say, mistakes that ITT put together when it came to streets,” City Manager Jim Landon said last week. “We’ve acknowledged that.”
The mistake hasn’t stopped residents of Florida Park Drive from periodically appearing before the council to complain about the traffic, the noise, the risk to children, even the risk to health from vehicle fumes, as one resident did last week. But the manager and the council had little new to promise by way of help, other than, perhaps, a resurfacing that could cut down on the noise level.
“For 14 years the traffic on Florida Park Drive has not been controlled not at all,” Steve Carr, the latest of Florida Park Drive plaintiffs, told the council. He claimed (without providing specifics) that in 2003 the city could have taken measures to control traffic on the road, but didn’t. In 2008, he said, the city “declared it a major road, so that now, not only do we have car traffic, we have 18-wheelers, big trucks coming through there,” he said. “This was a conscious decision of the city to harm the residents of Florida Park Drive. There’s no other way any of us who live there can see it any other way.”
The claim is difficult to sustain: Palm Coast’s mayor lives on one of the streets that flow into Florida Park Drive. But the city doesn’t dispute that the street is more heavily trafficked than it would like. Carr says 8,000 cars and 528 trucks drive through it every day.
“So give the residents of Florida Park Drive some help, and we need it now,” Carr said. “We don’t need it tomorrow, we need it today. So, a lot of you all didn’t have anything to do in making the decisions that came along with Florida Park Drive, but I put it to the city council today, come up with a solution to cut the traffic down on Florida Park Drive.”
Landon said the city hasn’t been inactive. It’s increased enforcement of speeding (including the installation of what has become a semi-permanent electronic sign that reminds drivers of their speed as they pass by).
The city has looked at other solutions, such as making it one way or making it a dead-end. But that merely transfers the traffic to other residential areas, Landon said.
Heidi Shipley, one of the two newcomers to the city council, has asked the city to perhaps resurface the street with a different type of asphalt that could reduce or absorb noise a bit more. The city’s traffic engineer is studying the matter.
Reducing or eliminating truck traffic will not happen, however. “We always discourage truck traffic,” Landon said of through traffic. “It’s very difficult because most of the truck traffic on that street is going to that neighborhood. You can’t prohibit trucks from delivering in that neighborhood. Some of that includes Palm Harbor. But it’s still considered local traffic and we could not prohibit truck traffic that is local.”
City council members have been sympathetic to residents’ complaints, but limited with regards to what they can do. “There doesn’t appear to be a solution that is legal for the city to do relative to the volume of traffic on Florida Park Drive,” council member Bill McGuire said. “Obviously the council is receptive to suggestions that can be done legally. But we haven’t found any yet.