The last year has been packed full of blueprints and town hall plans; we are rebuilding Gulf Breeze as we know it. Plans to make hotels and houses in every empty lot possible and further development on the bridge are starting to consume city hall meetings and grow over a small town such as ours. All of this seems a bit crazy and fast, and it is. Gulf Breeze is full of growth and development, but it should be carefully planned. The new construction plans should be reconsidered before any further damage can be done. With the new hotels, homes, and roads being built, traffic will increase significantly, and the school area can become a bit more dangerous.
Let’s think about traffic first. Here’s how most people view road building: the more you build, the better the traffic, right? After all, it would seem there’s only such much room cars can take. But that’s not necessarily the case. Start with common transportation around 100 years ago. Back then, a common city would be filled with street cars 3 , a public form of transportation that would hold dozens of participants traveling from place to place. With the removal of that, all forty to fifty potential users from every ride would likely be switching to a car or truck. It still seems, however, that it would make sense to build those roads and make space for everybody. The problem is, when you build a road, you are removing possible routes to walk or bike to everything, and thus further pushing people to resort to driving. And while a new bridge may have a better security, making more lanes may be bad for boat traffic, forcing larger boats to take alternate routes and increasing demand for smaller boats. More roads are being forced to build as well, with a new community under the name “The Waters” under construction, and the new hotel being built next to Publix . “The Waters” will bring a whopping 780 homes, and assuming an average of 1.5 cars per home, that would be 1,170 cars added to traffic that already includes previous residents and tourists. On top of that, the hotel will bring in quite the numbers. The average hotel has 115 rooms, and if every room had just one person in it, that may result in 115 cars added to the streets.
With all these numbers in mind, one should consider how traffic may also affect local schools and homes. A few important problems (caused by traffic) that should be acknowledged would be speeding, reckless driving, and loud car stereos 4. Speeding and reckless driving can be a hazard for students trying to cross streets and drive home, and accidents happen. Loud car stereos may not seem like a big deal either, but they can disturb sleeping in local homes or expose young children to explicit language.
Gulf Breeze isn’t falling apart, and the city planners aren’t stupid. It’s just that huge decisions like constructions should carefully be planned, and what possible trade-offs or controversy could be a result. If we can keep our town in check, then they could be sure to do the same for us.