Greg Leonard, a member of the Citizens Traffic Task Force (CTTF), told members of the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach last week that intersection improvements for the Ponte Vedra Beach/Palm Valley area will be considered for the 2022-2026 St. Johns County budgeting cycle.
“Improvements can happen faster if roadway money becomes available from other sources,” said Leonard at the May 31 meeting held at Marsh Landing Country Club. “As the CTTF Board, we’ve developed our ask document. We’re asking to get intersection improvements made ASAP. We want to get something done. This wasn’t just an exercise.”
Leonard served as the Club’s speaker and discussed the CTTF’s origin, efforts over the past four years and next steps. He said the organization provided the county with a prioritized list of road improvements in March 2018. Those improvements were based upon the recommendations of the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization (NFTPO) traffic study presented to the public in April 2017 and the results of community surveys distributed in fall 2017.
Overall, the survey results reflected support of intersection improvements and disapproval of the widening of A1A. Estimated to cost approximately $3.4 million, the specific intersection improvements include engineering efforts at Mickler Road at A1A, PGA Tour Boulevard, Sawgrass Village Drive, Solana Road, Dolphin Boulevard, Palm Valley Road at Roscoe Boulevard and Mickler Road at Palm Valley Road.
Leonard said the CTTF shared the survey results with St. Johns County and NFTPO officials in December 2017 and January 2018, respectively. In turn, both the county and NFTPO provided information on current roadway and commercial projects that they said should have positive effects on traffic through Ponte Vedra Beach.
These projects include the completion of State Road 9B and I-95 to Race Track Road in 2018; the widening of I-295 and the addition of express lanes in 2018; and retail and residential development planned near the intersection of Race Track Road and State Road 9B, as well as between U.S. Route 1 and I-95 along County Road 210. According to Leonard, this development should attract westbound traffic and reduce the number of cars coming eastbound from Nocatee and through Ponte Vedra Beach.
Based on additional conversations with government officials and NFTPO representatives, Leonard said a new roadway corridor west of the Intracoastal Waterway connecting Nocatee Parkway with J. Turner Butler Boulevard is not under consideration or part of the long-term plan through 2040.
The CTTF sent a communication to its distribution list in April 2018 that outlined the reasons why. First, environmental permitting and construction would make the roadway very expensive to implement, with an estimated cost of several hundred million dollars. Second, if a significant investment is requested to improve traffic flow, Leonard said officials with the county and state would likely weigh the relatively lower cost to widen A1A ($32.6 million) against the much higher cost of a new corridor, and choose the lower cost option.
In addition, Leonard said the buildout plan for Nocatee puts substantial residential infrastructure directly in the path of the likely route of the corridor. Perhaps most importantly, Leonard said the land needed for the road is not currently available for purchase. In a separate conversation with the Recorder, fellow CTTF member Jim Sabo said the property currently belongs to the Davis family.