Improving traffic and transportation safety and a proposal to build a traffic-separated greenway trail in Ponte Vedra were among the topics discussed at a luncheon meeting of the Ponte Vedra Beach Division of the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce.
Held Sept. 14 at the Sawgrass Beach Club, the luncheon featured presentations by Greg Leonard of the Citizens Traffic Task Force and Deb Chapin of the PV Greenway & Preserve initiative.
Ponte Vedra/Palm Valley Traffic Study
The Ponte Vedra/Palm Valley Traffic Study – which focuses on A1A from Mickler Road to the Duval County line, Palm Valley Road, Solana Road and Roscoe Boulevard – is scheduled to be completed by next summer.
“This entire process and the completion of the study will happen by June of next year, so the study piece of it as at least in our foreseeable future,” Leonard said. The study results and recommendations will be made public at that time, in June or July 2017.
Unanimously approved by the Board of County Commissioners in December 2015, the study will assess the need for traffic and safety improvements, with one of the key areas of study being activity at intersections – both in turning counts as well as total volume. Drivers may have already noticed counters along a number of roadways in the past month, Leonard noted.
The study will also cite data from existing sources such as the Florida Department of Transportation traffic counts along SR A1A, FDOT’s crash data, the Department of Revue Property Appraiser’s database, the Florida Geographic Data Library and other relevant sources of information pertinent to the study. Future growth affecting the study area will be projected through 2040 and incorporated in the study.
In addition to studying vehicular traffic, the traffic study will also examine bicycle, pedestrian and truck traffic within the study area, the results of which will be used to generate a draft technical memorandum to use as a baseline or benchmark for use in future activities associated with the project. Leonard pointed to the PV Greenway & Preserve Initiative as being one of the best options the community has to improve mobility, particularly pedestrian mobility, he said.
After the traffic study is completed, the next step will be figuring out how to mobilize funds. Possible sources of funding include the federal government, FDOT or the county, but asking the county for new funds at this point in time is a very uphill task, Leonard said.
“This is good news for us as a community, but it also illustrates the rather lengthy process that making changes like this requires,” he said.
Ponte Vedra Greenway & Preserve initiative
The action plan set forth by the PV Greenway & Preserve initiative, meanwhile, has been largely accomplished, organizer Deb Chapin said. The grassroots group, which proposes to create a multi-use traffic-separated greenway trail system, has gained a lot of policymaker support and established a lot of partnerships, she said.
Currently, the group is in the process of looking at obtaining a nonprofit status, and is seeking funding to help with the group’s website – which Chapin said should be online in a couple of weeks – as well as maps and renderings. A business plan for maintenance also needs to be established, she said.
Chapin will discuss the initiative at the next trails symposium scheduled for Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m. at Crosswater Hall in Nocatee. Hosted by St. Johns County in conjunction with the St. Johns County Trails Coalition, the Oct. 5 symposium will be the second in a series of sessions to discuss what updates members of the community would like to see made to the St. Johns County Greenway, Blueway and Trails Master Plan.
Appealing to small business owners and chamber members at the meeting, Chapin noted that there could be an opportunity for businesses to capitalize on the proposed trail.
“Some of the things that we’re envisioning may be private entities for renting bicycles,” Chapin said. “Maybe there’s a little bit of horseback riding/trail riding for the hotel tourists; maybe a private membership dog park, but here’s a lot of [opportunities] along the way.”
Chamber member Dr. Sharyl Truty of Balanced Physician Care applauded the grassroots groups’ effort.
“We have obesity as a major epidemic,” Truty said. “I come from a culture, where I moved from recently in Chicago, where there’s a lot of these bikeways and pathways, and I think just for the health of the community, this is a fantastic project.”