Business owners say traffic proposals could hurt bottom line | News
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Traffic is expected to be high in the Nation's Oldest City when St. Augustine celebrates its 450th anniversary in 2015.
To prepare for that traffic increase, there are proposals on the table.
However, many business owners in or near downtown St. Augustine are not happy with those new traffic suggestions. They said the changes would be detrimental to their bottom line.
Bill and Joyce Ferrigno have owned A Step Back in Time Antiques on San Marco Avenue for eight years.
"Some of the suggestions that have been brought forth just won't work," Mr. Ferrigno stated.
The Ferrignos and many of business owners in St. Augustine say the suggested traffic changes could keep customers from getting to their stores.
The North Florida Transportation Planning Organization, along with consultants from HNTB, have proposed ways to ease traffic congestion around St. Augustine. The $125,000 study is called the St. Augustine Mobility Institute.
Consultants and planners are concentrating on the three entrance corridors into downtown: King Street, San Marco Avenue and Anastasia Boulevard.
Public meetings will take place every day this week in St. Augustine at various locations. The goal is for the public to tell the consultants and planners what they think about the suggestions.
David Wenzel is the National Director of Planning with HNTB Corp.
"There are a lot of ways to tackle the problem of congestion," he said.
Wenzel's consulting team from HNTB has suggested various ideas. They include removing on-street parking, adding bicycle lanes or making the main corridors into downtown one-way only roads.
Numerous business owners tell First Coast News those suggestions could keep customers from coming to their doors.
Ferrigno said, "If [travelers] bypass us and if they can't park in front -- and if they're strangers in town -- how will they know how to come back to this area to shop?"
At Monday's public meeting, Wenzel's team heard a lot of business owners oppose the one-way suggestion.
Tuesday morning, Wenzel told First Coast News "that's been eliminated as one of our options to look at."
Ferrigno said "that's a start. If they drop the one-way, it's a help but it's not the total answer."
Ferrigno wants the roads to stay the way they are. He's already dealing with the slow-moving economy. He said he can't afford changes on the roads too.
"It's going to drive us below where we cannot meet our bills and our expenses," Ferrigno said.
To see the proposal in the St. Augustine Mobility Study, click here. The rest of this week's meeting schedule is:
Wednesday, Sept. 19th, 5 p.m. - 6 p.m.
San Marco Avenue Corridor Meeting at the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, Moore CLD Room
Thursday, Sept. 20th, 5 p.m. - 6 p.m.
Anastasia Boulevard Corridor Meeting at the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park
Friday, Sept. 21st, 2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
Wrap-up Meeting at The Alcazar Room in St. Augustine City Hall, 75 King Street