VERO BEACH — The City Council by a 4-1 vote Tuesday approved a study showing that State Road 60 can be reduced to two-lanes in each direction and adequately handle traffic now and in the future, but no implementation plans were put into place.
City Councilwoman Pilar Turner, who voted to accept the traffic calming feasibility study, said before moving forward with implementation she would want to see more information such as a cost-benefit analysis.
Mayor Craig Fletcher voted against accepting the study and said he thought it was fatally flawed. Fletcher noted before any implementation took place that plans would have to be drawn up and go through public hearings before the city's Planning and Zoning Board.
Money would also have to be found to do the work that has been estimated to cost between $680,000 to $1.09 million. An estimate 75 percent to 80 percent of the cost of the most basic plan could be absorbed as part of the regular resurfacing of the road by the state, although that is not expected to take place for another seven years or more.
About 25 people spoke on the issue at Tuesday's City Council meeting, including many downtown property and business owners.
The traffic calming feasibility study done by Kimley-Horn and Associates said converting S.R. 60 through downtown to a pair of two-lane roads could adequately traffic through 2035.
Currently, the one-way segments have three lanes eastbound and four lanes westbound. The conversion would keep them as one-way roads, but two lanes in each direction.
The study looked at the impact of reducing the number of lanes to two in each direction.
Scott Chisholm, owner of Scott's Sporting Goods at the intersection of 1407 20th Street, said he would look to the city to determine how many lanes should be there, but that four lanes is unsafe.
Earlier in the day, Chisholm pointed out the lack of any buffer between the sidewalks and the traffic moving down the roadway that widens to four lanes.
He and other business owners have said that making the area safer for pedestrians and others is the main reason for the proposed reduction.
Former City Councilman Brian Heady, however, disagreed that people cannot walk safely through the area.
"They are not the Twin Scares to me," said Heady.
Chris Beals, of ABC Printing, said traffic speeds through the Twin Pairs at 70 mph and more, and there is an accident once a month at the intersection near his business.
Some business owners said that improving the downtown helps the whole community, including through increased property tax income.
The traffic calming feasibility study done by Kimley-Horn and Associates Inc. also states that the reduction "is not expected to have an adverse impact on evacuation."
The study said that based on the length of time given for evacuation that the roads could adequately handle the traffic load and pointed out there are also some alternate routes people can take.
"I think it's now time to move forward and do something about it," said architect Peter Jones.
Some people, however, have said that the lane reduction is not needed and perhaps enforcement of a lower speed limit would be a better, less expensive, alternative.
Resident Rosemarie Wilson said an in-depth study and survey should be done before the city moves forward with any project. She believes most people will feel as she does: "If it isn't broken don't fix it."