Walton County hopes that a change in speed limit along 30A will be an addition by subtraction.
The county hopes to add safety for pedestrians and bicyclists with a loss of 10 mph, from 35 to 25, on the stretch of road between Grayton Beach State Park and WaterColor.
In August of this year, “there was a discussion between District 1 Commissioner Scott Brannon and District 5 Commissioner Cecilia Jones,” said District 5 Commissioner Cindy Meadows. Their discussions focused on identifying solutions to “a public safety issue on Western Bridge,” where bike riders and pedestrians travel on the shoulder close to eastbound traffic.
The two commissioners approached Public Works in November for safety solutions for the iconic bridge between Grayton and WaterColor.
“Public Works came up with a plan to lower the speed limit to 25,” said Meadows of the span, which will include the two car bridges over Western Lake.
The 10 mph speed limit decrease is just one of the efforts by Public Works to make the roadway more safe. A completed safety measure included the installation of signs to make drivers aware of the nearby presence of bike riders and pedestrians.
Tuesday, the county was working on another aspect of the process, which is restriping the area to make the separation between car and bike traffic more distinct.The county has plans to put up“candlesticks or flexible vertical visual/physical barriers” between the eastbound lane and the path, according to a press release sent out Monday.
“They give a visual separation between the driving lane and bike path,” said Meadows of the poles.
Meadows mentioned that these measures are temporary, and to be used in the meantime while the commissioners come up with a plan to permanently fix the safety and traffic issues along 30A.
“When I was commissioner before, we looked at building a bridge tandem to the roadway,” said Meadows. “It would be kind of like what they have over at Draper Lake.”
It is the hope that the two bridges would be funded by the TDC, whose bed tax coffers were recently ruled usable for certain projects that would benefit visiting tourists on the go. And the bridges would just be a small part of a wider 30A transportation plan.
“I want to sit down and look at a big picture plan,” she said. “And look at all of our options.”
She said that though golf carts would factor into the plan, those who would like to ride their low-speed vehicles on the now-25 mph road will have to wait to go from Grayton Beach to WaterColor.
“If you notice, it doesn’t go all the way down to 283. It’s mainly right there as you approach the curve, where the state park is,” said Meadows.
The posting of the initial press release to The Walton Sun’s Facebook page drew much commentary, both good and bad.
Jeff Heard remarked, “This lower speed limit will work against us. What will really happen is now people will be passing more and this section of road will be very unsafe. If they believe what they say then why not lower all 30A. Seems there may (be) other hidden agendas.”
Cheryl Tindell said, “Growing up, 30A was a biker/pedestrian heaven . . . Now it's crazy — even for cars. Gonna move to Pt Washington.”
Nancy Travis Conner posted, “If it can save lives, no problem... why be in such a hurry on 30A anyway?”