Portion of River Road now one way to relieve speeding

Portion of River Road now one way to relieve speeding
Variable message signs were posted in late July indicating a portion of River Road in San Marco will soon become one-way.

Residents are now finding relief from speeding and congestion stemming from public fishing in Riverfront Park. Jacksonville’s Department of Public Works will soon be modifying traffic flow in front of the park by converting the section of River Road between Laverne Street and Landon Avenue into a one-way street.

Prior to the change, the roadway allowed for two-way traffic, northbound and southbound with parking lining the street on its east side. On July 21, Public Works posted variable message signs alerting motorists to the upcoming change, and a week later, on July 28 signs were installed and new pavement markings were painted indicating traffic is allowed to travel only one way, northbound, in a single lane. As before, residents and park visitors may park on the east side of the street.

Changing the direction of street near Riverfront Park was one suggestion residents considered during a public meeting called by District 5 Councilwoman Lori Boyer in January as a way to curb problems stemming from public fishing in the park. During that meeting, many residents spoke to limiting that section of River Road to one way as a deterrent to motorists who often exceed the 20 mph speed limit.

“I think it’s a great idea. I’m thrilled to see how it will resolve the problems with the traffic flow,” said Anita Morrill, a San Marco resident who lives near the park. “It seems like a cost-effective way to resolve the issues some of the residents have. It’s a good way to alleviate traffic off Route 95.”

Also discussed at the January meeting was the possibility of blocking the alley on its north end behind residences facing the park with a gate and access code only for residents. The gate would deter cut-through traffic from commuters who might try to bypass San Marco Boulevard once the one-way street goes into effect.

This spring, the San Marco Preservation Society contacted the owners of the buildings along that stretch but discovered many did not relish taking responsibility for maintaining the gate, said Boyer. While no barrier will be installed, ‘Do Not Enter’ signs will be posted at the entrance to the north end of the alley, she said.

“We’re going to try it with only the signs to see if people will abuse the alley,” Boyer said. “If they do, we will then look again at the gate idea or perhaps install speed bumps and additional signs.”

Dianne Muse, a resident who lives on River Road near the park, said she believes motorists will cut through the alley on their way south as a way to continue onto River Road. “We’ve been here nine years and we don’t like people to cut through the alley, but trying to tell them it is not a cut-through is impossible,” she said.

“I’m so happy. So very, very happy (about the change),” said Muse. “People drive so fast through here. During work hours they fly through here. It’s very dangerous at each end of the street near the park, especially near Laverne Street,” she said, noting some homeowners have high hedges making visibility difficult as drivers round the corner where River Road intersects with Laverne Street. “That corner is real bad. I’m so surprised there haven’t been more wrecks. We hear horns and the squealing of brakes all the time,” she said.

Morrill agreed that the sharp corner near Laverne Street is hazardous. “Having the traffic only go one way will help,” she said. “There is a blind spot there, and although I’ve never seen an accident, I often worry about pedestrians crossing the street. Drivers can’t see you if you walking your dog. This is a good start,” Morrill continued. “I’m optimistic. Hopefully we will see positive changes with all of it.”

By Marcia Hodgson
Resident Community News

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