Maryam Ghyabi believes in bringing people together to solve problems. The founder of Ghyabi and Associates in Ormond Beach puts together coalitions of business, government and private interests to work toward improving roadways, and as a result, communities.
A civil engineer with expertise in transportation, Ghyabi formed the ISB Coalition to improve the corridor that leads travelers by the Speedway, airport, hospital and other important entities on the way to the beachside. Identifying needs and working with government, the Coalition succeeding in improving sidewalks, bus stops and landscaping; and building a pedestrian overpass along the boulevard.
“A coalition creates a trusting and creative environment for people to share ideas,” she said recently.
The ISB Coalition used a state grant for the design work, and Ghyabi volunteers her time.
More recently, she has turned her attention to East International Speedway Boulevard, and her work will be recognized by the Daytona Regional Chamber of Commerce with the Chairman’s Award at the annual banquet scheduled for Feb. 22 at Ocean Center. In 2017, the Chamber identified East ISB as a priority.
The first coalition she started was the I-4 St. Johns River Bridge Coalition, which successfully sought funding from the state for advancing the reconstruction of the I-4 Bridge over the St. Johns River in 2004. She said the state had planned on replacing the bridge in 2017.
“A lot of people were dying on that bridge,” she said. “There were terrible accidents.”
Last year, Ghyabi and Associates joined Alfred Benesch and Co., but her community involvement will continue.
The first responsibility for infrastructure design is to safely move people and goods from one place to another, Ghyabi said. If a corridor is pleasing, it can create a sense of community and enable economic growth and improved quality of life.
There should be a balance between development and nature, she said, and biking and walking opportunities are important.
“Green space is crucial,” she said. “I’ve tried to promote this all my life. You don’t need to cut every tree. You don’t have to pave over everything.”
The Roundabout Question
Ghyabi said $25 million has been approved in state money for improvements to East ISB. She has no doubt that infrastructure improvement will encourage economic development.
“There are amazing people who are trying to have businesses there,” she said.
One controversial plan for East ISB improvement is a roundabout at the intersection with State Road A1A, but Ghyabi is fully supportive.
“A roundabout is safer,” she said, pointing out that traffic flows at a slower speed.
She said the roundabout near the Seabreeze Boulevard bridge years ago was not well designed, and you shouldn’t give up on all roundabouts because of one that did not work well.
“If a jacket didn’t fit, would you never buy another jacket?” she asked.
LPGA, Granada, Etc.
While now focused on East ISB, Ghyabi wants to next turn her attention to the interchange at Interstate 95 and U.S. 1, saying the design does not support the present truck traffic. The state has done some studies, but she wants to get involved and make it a priority.
Another problem area is Dunlawton Avenue, near the I-95 interchange, where vehicles maneuver crowded lanes to local businesses and intersecting roads. Alternatives need to be looked at, she said.
For Granada Boulevard, parallel roads must be used to take pressure off of the boulevard. Slowing the traffic near Beach Street was a good idea to create a downtown area, she said.
One thing she opposes is the widening of roads.
“Adding lanes will not give you capacity,” she said. “I hope that doesn’t happen to LPGA.”
When roads are widened to several lanes they can seem “out of control,” she said.
One area of LPGA that should be looked at is the bridge over the Tomoka River. The size of the bridge could hinder traffic to a growing area.
“Nobody talks about that bridge,” she said. “But if you don’t have safe and easy access to businesses, people will not go.”
Sales Tax Needed
The proposed sales tax in Volusia County is something that “must happen,” Ghyabi said, to provide needed infrastructure.
She believes the tax would get more support from citizens if the County would agree to have a citizen committee oversee how the money is spent. Also, there should be a sunset on the tax and people should see a list of projects with schedules and cost.
In regard to raising impact fees, Ghyabi said that should be part of the conversation on roadway funding.
Source: Ormond Beach Observer