It’s a problem that many communities all over the country must deal with—traffic and general congestion following major special events.
Safety Harbor has been experiencing this issue for a while, as some events continue to grow in popularity, bringing more visitors, and in turn, more traffic, to the city’s quaint, yet compact, downtown district.
The issue was raised again on Monday night, after thousands of Fourth of July revelers attempted to leave town at the same time following another spectacular Safety Harbor fireworks display over Old Tampa Bay.
“The traffic after the fireworks tonight was absolutely horrible!” Fran Blanton wrote on Safety Harbor Connect’s Facebook page shortly after the city’s Independence Day celebration concluded.
“We were on third (sic) Avenue and Martin Luther King for over 45 minutes. Where in the world was traffic control tonight? If safety Harbor is going to continue to have these fireworks every year, they need to make sure that traffic runs smoother.”
Another commenter concurred with Blanton’s statement.
“Really disappointed last night,” Dee Walker Nasr wrote. “We attend tons of large scale functions so we are accustomed to the traffic after, but this was ridiculous.”
“…we literally sat in traffic for 45 minutes at a standstill before any movement at all. There didnt (sic) seems (sic) to be enough police to move traffic along.”
Additionally, Blanton said she “almost saw several fights while people were trying to get out of the traffic,” and she also witnessed people arguing in the area during the fireworks.
Unfortunately, problems of this nature have been plaguing the city for a couple of years now.
As Safety Harbor’s special events calendar continues to expand, and more people flock to the city’s burgeoning waterfront and downtown district for said events, residents, visitors and city officials have all spoken about the inconveniences that can accompany such growth.
“All of you campaigned that you want Safety Harbor to remain a small town, quaint, etc…but overuse of the marina and waterfront park has taken away a pleasant lifestyle that we expect to have here,” resident Patrick Whalen told the City Commission in May 2015.
At the time, Mayor Andy Steingold said he agreed with Whalen.
“I tend to agree with him,” Steingold said. “At some point we need to put a ceiling on the number of events we have here in Safety Harbor.”
“A few of the events I have attended, quite frankly, they weren’t really worthy of shutting down roads or shutting down the marina,” he added. “Maybe…that’s something we should discuss.”
Recently, city officials worked with Best Damn Race organizer Nick Zivolich regarding the traffic issues stemming from his popular annual road race, and they are currently studying the daily traffic patterns on Main Street.
But while the subject has been addressed in the past, the fact is, it’s inherently difficult to mitigate the effects of a situation where thousands of people, and hundreds of vehicles, are attempting to exit a relatively small area, featuring narrow, one-lane roads, at the same time.
Of course there is always one option, albeit one that’s only available to a small segment of Safety Harbor event attendees.
“We walked and had a great night!” Steven Barnard said in reply to Blanton’s comment.
- City to conduct additional Main Street traffic study
- 2017 Best Damn Race approved, race founder praised by City Commission
- Mayor calls for “ceiling” on special events in Safety Harbor