CLEARWATER — After nearly 20 Clearwater Beach residents spoke at City Hall to oppose turning two of the beach's main thoroughfares into one-way streets, city officials put off the decision until after spring break.
Before the city makes such a big and controversial move, the City Council wants to see if other methods to control beach traffic will work. They'll revisit the subject sometime next year.
"There is never going to be a perfect solution," Mayor Frank Hibbard said at Thursday night's council meeting. "I'm willing to wait until after spring break and then we can reanalyze it."
The city has been considering making Coronado Drive southbound only and Hamden Drive northbound only. The idea is to improve traffic flow and public safety after two large parking garages open along Coronado.
A Hyatt hotel will open in February with a 750-space garage, and the city eventually plans to put a 300-space public garage next to it.
Both will exit onto Coronado, and the fear is that hundreds of cars will be trying to turn left across traffic on Coronado to leave the beach at the end of the day.
Instead of the one-way plan, the city will try a temporary solution: installing a series of flexible posts in Coronado's median in an attempt to prevent left turns out of the Hyatt's garage.
Residents of South Clearwater Beach who oppose the one-way plan were pleased that the city is holding off for now, especially after council members expressed support for the plan at their work session Monday.
"I have to commend you on the change in your thinking," Joseph Quinn, who lives on Hamden, told the council.
The plan is opposed by residents of Devon, Brightwater and Bayside drives because they say they would have a harder time getting to and from their homes. They're also worried about higher speeds on Hamden.
However, the council still might pursue the one-way plan if the new garages overwhelm traffic on Coronado.
"We're going to see what happens," said Councilman George Cretekos. "If the problem doesn't improve, then we're going to have to look at an alternative. That alternative is one-way pairs."
Mike Brassfield can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 445-4160.