Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Clearwater Beach thoroughfares headed for one-ways

CLEARWATER — Despite vocal opposition from many residents of South Clearwater Beach, city officials are leaning toward turning two of the beach's main thoroughfares into one-way streets.

The City Council will likely vote Thursday night to make Coronado Drive southbound only and Hamden Drive northbound only.

Council members expect to hear from beach residents who disagree with the plan, but they believe the change is for the greater good. They think it will improve traffic flow and public safety after two large parking garages open along Coronado.

"I knew we were going to get some gnashing of teeth on this, but I think we can definitely move more traffic" with one-way streets, said Mayor Frank Hibbard. "I believe we need to make decisions up here that are in favor of the majority of people."

Officials will likely wait until after spring break to make the switch. That would give the city time to repave Hamden and improve its crosswalks, preparing the little-used street to handle four times as many vehicles under the new traffic pattern.

The plan is opposed by residents of Devon, Brightwater and Bayside drives — three fingers of land that jut out into Clearwater Harbor east of Hamden. Under this proposal, they wouldn't be able to immediately turn left when they leave their neighborhoods. They're also worried about higher speeds on Hamden.

Nearly 200 people have signed a petition opposing the one-way plan. However, the board of the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce supports it.

Opinions also were divided at a recent public meeting on this issue. Out of 32 people who wrote down comments at the meeting, seven were in favor of the idea, saying things like, "This should have been done years ago." Another 16 were opposed, saying things like, "A big no to one way!" Nine comments were harder to classify and offered various suggestions.

Council members are considering making this change because they're worried about the effect that two new parking garages will have on beach traffic.

The city will soon put a 300-space public garage next to a Hyatt hotel that opens in January with a 750-space garage. Both will exit onto Coronado. When beachgoers leave in droves at the end of the day, hundreds of cars could be trying to turn left across traffic on Coronado to head toward the Clearwater Beach roundabout and leave the island.

"A recipe for disaster," Councilwoman Carlen Petersen calls it.

Aside from safety concerns, this scenario could back up southbound vehicles on Coronado all the way up to the roundabout, which could paralyze beach traffic, officials said.

At a City Council work session Monday morning, officials discussed some alternatives beach residents suggested. But they decided these wouldn't work:

• What about making S Gulfview Boulevard a northbound one-way street instead of Hamden? The council doesn't want to funnel faster one-way traffic onto Gulfview, which is intended to be a scenic, pedestrian-friendly corridor on the beachfront.

• What about making Coronado one-way but leaving Hamden and S Gulfview as two-way? The city's traffic operations manager, Paul Bertels, thinks that would lead to "extreme" lines of cars waiting to get onto Hamden from Coronado. There would be three southbound lanes on Coronado but only one northbound lane on Hamden. City Manager Bill Horne said that could lead to complaints from Sand Key residents trying to drive north from their homes.

Councilman George Cretekos suggested waiting to change the streets to one-way until after the city makes some improvements to Hamden. The city won't be able to do that until after spring break because it's currently busy repaving S Gulfview.

In the meantime, officials are thinking about trying to prevent left turns out of the new Hyatt parking garage by putting barriers in the middle of Coronado — the same way that some median openings along U.S. 19 in Clearwater were closed up last year.

At least twice before, in 1976 and 1988, Clearwater's traffic engineers have proposed turning Coronado and Hamden drives into a pair of one-way streets. Both times, the idea was killed due to public opposition.

This time around, City Council members sound like they're prepared to weather criticism.

"It seems like it's every 10 years — maybe like the cicadas — this has come up," said Councilman John Doran. "If we do move forward, we're going to have people say that we didn't listen to them. ... We do listen to them. But our job, by necessity, means that we can't satisfy everybody and we can't please everybody."

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4160.

FAST FACTS

If you go

What: Clearwater City Council meeting

When: 6 p.m. Thursday

Where: City Hall, 112 S Osceola Ave.

Clearwater Beach thoroughfares headed for one-ways 12/01/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 1, 2009 8:33pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after: A lot that went into a marathon win

    Blogs

    Rays manager Kevin Cash had a simple strategy when Fox Sports Sun's Alex Corddry asked him how the team would move on from Sunday's marathon win and get ready to face the Rangers tonight in Texas:

  2. Navy parachutist dies during demonstration over Hudson River

    Military

    JERSEY CITY, N.J. — In the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, a Navy Seal team member fell to his death Sunday after his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the Hudson River.

    Officials surround a U.S. Navy Seal's parachute that landed in a parking lot after the parachutist fell into the Hudson River when his parachute failed to open during a Fleet Week demonstration over the river in Jersey City, N.J. The Navy said the parachutist was pronounced dead at Jersey City Medical Center. [Joe Shine | Jersey Journal via AP]
  3. As White House defends Jared Kushner, experts question his alleged back-channel move

    National

    WASHINGTON — The Trump administration argued over the weekend that back-channel communications are acceptable in building dialogue with foreign governments, part of an effort to minimize fallout over White House adviser Jared Kushner's reported discussion about creating a secret conduit to the Kremlin at a Russian …

    President-elect Donald Trump embraces son in law Jared Kushner, as his daughter Ivanka Trump stands nearby, after his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in the early morning hours of Nov. 9. [Mark Wilson | Getty Images]
  4. Sunstar ambulance overturns at Drew Street intersection in Clearwater

    Accidents

    The intersection of Drew Street and N Fort Harrison Avenue in Clearwater closed following a crash that involved a Sunstar ambulance unit, according to the Clearwater Police Department.

    A Sunstar unit flipped in the intersection of Drew Street and Ford Harrison Avenue in Clearwater Monday morning after a car reportedly ran a red light and struck the ambulance, according to the Clearwater Police Department.
  5. Merkel spokesman: Germany still seeking stronger U.S. ties

    Nation

    BERLIN — Berlin remains committed to strong trans-Atlantic relations, but Chancellor Angela Merkel's suggestion after meetings with President Donald Trump that Europe can no longer entirely rely on the U.S. "speaks for itself," her spokesman said Monday

    German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivers a speech during an election campaign of her Christian Democratic Union, CDU, and the Christian Social Union, CSU, in Munich, southern Germany, Sunday. Merkel is urging European Union nations to stick together in the face of new uncertainty over the United States and other challenges. [Matthias Balk/dpa via AP]