As the warmer weather, sunny skies and white sand beaches appeal to people from central Florida and surrounding states, Volusia residents are asking for traffic to be addressed. Locals are taking to social media platforms to complain about traffic, particularly residents living in the coastal communities. Comments include: “traffic and growth are ridiculous”, “total gridlock”, “traffic is a disaster” and “concern that emergency vehicles can not reach people.”
Volusia Locals Expressing Growing Concern over Traffic Problems
Photos and videos accompany the community complaints. Users on NextDoor, an app for neighborhoods, post suggestions to remedy the congestion of cars. Less incentives and higher cost to access the beach are the main ideas.
Here are a few of the locals’ suggestions:
- Issue online beach passes and limit the number given out daily (countywide)
- Double the price of beach passes and the daily fee for non-residents (countywide)
- Charge tolls to access the beachside (causeways are state-owned)
- Digital billboard on interstates stating beach access is open or closed
- Propose increase to impact fees paid by new developments (city)
Locals’ collective ideas across social media are that the traffic management is unsafe. Residents have shared they have written formal letters to the District Traffic Engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in DeLand. Each city has waterways and infrastructure managed at local, state and federal levels. Each section of government would need to work cohesively and approve plans before implementing.
Volusia County Responds to Traffic Complaints
The county manages the beaches while each city manages its own infrastructure. The traffic complaints regarding beach approaches and managing access would need to be addressed by Volusia County Council. Traffic lights, parking, roadways and directional signs are planned by the city with FDOT.
On March 24, 2020 the New Smyrna Beach Police Department (NSBPD) answered citizen concerns by publishing an update detailing plans to keep the community safe. The NSBPD, county and city officials and toll company representatives were present at an annual beach traffic meeting. Once the beach reaches max capacity, cones will be used to direct traffic away from the ramps “in order to avoid a gridlock.” The beach supervisor will notify the NSBPD sergeant and beachside units will be sent to assist when not on call for service.
According to the release, the county does not have electronic message boards to inform commuters of beach closures. NSBPD plans to continue to use their message boards on the causeways and State Road 44 to help direct traffic. FDOT has not implemented predictive technology yet, so traffic signals are on fixed times. If gridlock occurs on State Road 44, the NSBPD plans to work the traffic signals manually to flush traffic westbound out of the city.
Volusia small business owners rely on residents and visitors. Some locals are not surprised by the traffic increase as beautiful weather and access to the coast have brought an influx of people for decades. Locals are also considering the 2020 pandemic quarantine. People are ready to plan trips and visit their favorite central Florida destinations. Residents and visitors can have access to real time traffic and beach conditions by using the Volusia Beaches app. In addition to the app, each city and police department publishes regular updates via official Twitter and Facebook pages.
What Can Locals do about Increasing Traffic in Volusia County?
How can residents’ ideas be considered? Become a proactive citizen by attending city and county council meetings, communicate with representatives regularly via phone and email, share ideas and communities should advocate their needs as a group.