Seabreeze Boulevard could have a bicycle lane separated from traffic with trees and other greenery.
Main Street could include intersections with barriers that raise up from the road to create pedestrian-only space for various events. When the events are over, Main Street would revert to a two-way road again.
State Road A1A in the core beachside area could be redesigned with slight "chicanes" (also called little curves) that naturally slow traffic to make the area more pedestrian-friendly.
In essence, those were the conceptual plans the Florida Department of Transportation shared Wednesday night at the Volusia County Ocean Center with dozens of citizens and public officials.
The key here is the word "conceptual." Although improvements to Oakridge Boulevard are already being made and a renovation of East International Speedway Boulevard is slated to begin at the end of 2022, no funding has been earmarked for the plans shown Wednesday. It's not clear how much the plans shown would cost, and there is no solid timeline yet for making the improvements.
But as FDOT's Doreen Bobo said, "You have to start somewhere." And a first step is community input, which was the purpose of the meeting.
'Chicanes' And 'Bollards'
Bobo was among the FDOT staff explaining the conceptual plans. She pointed out how that besides the chicanes on A1A, the road could include crosswalks for pedestrians that would also be slightly raised, creating a sort of speedbump effect that would further slow vehicle traffic on the road."
"That's what we're trying to do is slow down traffic," Bobo said, citing too-fast vehicles as the main danger for pedestrians. "Getting the speed down is just better for everybody."
At another place in the meeting room, another FDOT official Jeff Cicerello explained how retractable "bollards" at intersections along Main Street could block the two-way road to create pedestrian-only zones when needed for events.
"I really like this concept," Cicerello said.
Scott Barr, who works for Maryam Ghyabi-White, owner of Ghyabi-White Consulting and Management, stood before a screen showing how Seabreeze Boulevard could include a bicycle lane and greenery but still be a two-lane, one-way road. The greenery, he said, would be used as a "physical barrier" to separate bicyclists from cars.
Reaction To The Conceptual Plans
The conceptual plans generated a generally positive reaction from many of those attending the gathering. But some viewing them wondered about the timeline, and also pointed out the various other issues Daytona Beach's core beachside faces.
Those issues include too few entertainment options, too many houses and commercial properties in need of improvement, and concerns about safety.
"They're nice pretty renderings," said Ken Strickland, who has just been elected to represent District 2 on the Daytona Beach City Commission, which includes part of the core beachside. "My question is timeline.
"We need to get it done quickly because our city is hurting, because we look bad. We've got to polish our jewel. My thing is, how do you move it along."
Jonathan Abraham Eid is CEO of Vienna Capital which owns the Plaza Resort & Spa on A1A that is planning a $45 million renovation. He called FDOT's conceptual plans "great." Sidewalks in the core beachside are too narrow and traffic flow is an issue, he added.
"When guests come to our resort, they always complain about the infrastructure," Eid said. "I'm very hopeful. "I see change as it's occurring."
But Eid added that better streets and sidewalks can only be the start of improvements. He said the beachside lacks the right "diversity of venues," regarding restaurants and shops and entertainment. He believes local entrepreneurs can be the creators of those needed venues.
Eid said he's held dozens of meetings with citizens, business owners, hotel operators, city officials and others in the core beachside area since taking over the Plaza about a year ago. The area's "key driver is our beauty, our beach," but there needs to be more than that, he said.
He believes Daytona Beach had a strong brand as "the world's most famous beach" in the 1980s and into the 1990's, "and then it started to lose its identity."
"I think we need to bring it back to where it means something again."
Article by Pat Rice, The Daytona Beach News-Journal