By Dave Logue
Residents of the Ponte Vedra and Palm Valley area gathered at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall on Tuesday, April 25 for an old-fashioned slice of Americana that resulted in a standing-room-only crowd of well over 500 people.
First, some background. About two years ago, representatives from a variety of homeowner associations and civic organizations started meetings to address current and future traffic problems in the area.
Their collective efforts resulted in St. Johns County and the North Florida Transportation Planning
Organization (NFTPO) providing funding in the amount of approximately $250,000 for a traffic study of the Ponte Vedra/Palm Valley area, from JTB to Mickler and from the coast to the Intracoastal.
The NFTPO contracted with a consulting company to conduct the study, and before the meeting it answered questions about the report before presenting a brief overview of its recommendations once the program began.
Residents Were Both Impassioned and Respectful
The public hearing, during which residents were allowed a maximum of two minutes to address the assembly, could be characterized as both impassioned and respectful. The most popular sentiment among those on hand revolved around the recommendation to widen a large portion of A1A to six lanes:
- “We moved here from Miami and don’t want to live in Miami again.”
- “I would like to see a connector built from JTB to Nocatee, and find out if the Davis family would be willing to help out.”
- “If we continue to allow developers to build in our community, we’ll keep dealing with the ramifications.”
- “Has anyone considered the impact in terms of additional pollution and increased noise?”
- “Widening A1A to six lanes will only encourage more traffic to flow through our community.”
Is Nocatee the Root Cause?
A common assumption from those who spoke publicly was that the development of Nocatee is primarily responsible for increased traffic on A1A, but as one resident pointed out, the study did not address the reasons for our current traffic load. Instead, it forecast future congestion and identified possible solutions, including the reconfiguration of multiple intersections where traffic is already an issue.
(I must admit, identifying the reasons for our current traffic problems before trying to recommend solutions seems like it would have been a good idea.)
While many public speakers addressed the widening of A1A, several additional topics were mentioned by more than one individuals. Among those were the need for a traffic signal at the north entrance of Fairfield (across from the south entrance to Sawgrass Country Club), and the prospect of a lighted intersection replacing the roundabout where Mickler and CR 210 meet.
None of those in attendance mentioned the fact that, despite school bus service being available for all levels of public schools, many parents still drop off and pick up their kids every day. Similarly, the fact that multiple siblings often drive separate vehicles to Ponte Vedra High School was not mentioned.
Citizens may still submit comments via email to Denise Bunnewith, Planning Director or mail them to Denise Bunnewith, North Florida TPO, 980 N. Jefferson St., Jacksonville, FL 32209.
All comments must be postmarked by May 9 to be included in the official record.