Reimagining Grand from Sims Park to the Port Richey waterfront has been a daunting proposition, but things appear to be falling into place to improve the connectivity between the two cities. There are several challenges that need to be addressed:
Coming up with a multi-use path that can connect New Port Richey and Port Richey is complicated by two issues.
- Getting safely across US 19. There have been on again / off again discussions about running a pedestrian & bicycle route under the north end of the US 19 bridge to connect the waterfront and the rest of Port Richey together. This proposal continues to incubate.
- Arriving at a route from Port Richey to downtown New Port Richey. The most obvious route would be down Grand Blvd. This is complicated because of the lack of any spare right of way along this route. One suggestion would be to eliminate the southbound traffic lane and use that space for a multi-use trail. While this would provide the space for a trail, it would complicate life for those living along Grand Blvd.
Clearly, a lot more discussion needs to be had regarding both of these issues. There may be some alternate routes, eg. along Washington Street, that may be easier to complete.
A second challenge is to make it possible for folks with golf carts in each city to travel back and forth between the two cities. In basic terms, all this would require is for the two cities to reach an agreement to allow this. New Port Richey is ready to do this and all we need is for the Port Richey council to tell their staff to make it happen. The biggest issue is safety and we’d need to agree on a safe route or routes between the two cities.
One complication is that golf carts are not allowed to cross US 19 at grade level. Routing golf carts under the bridge with pedestrians and bicycles is certainly possible, but would make that project much more expensive. A better solution, one that I mentioned last week at the joint New Port Richey, Port Richey, and Pasco County workshop, would be for all three jurisdictions to approach the Florida Department of Transportation to allow golf carts to cross US 19 at Grand Blvd. (And also at Marine Parkway and Main Street.) Golf carts are crossing now, so it is more a matter of having FDOT recognize reality rather than actually changing things. If FDOT remains intransigent, this may require legislative action.
Finally, and probably the easiest issue to solve is coming up with a micro-mobility solution to link the Port Richey Waterfront District with Downtown New Port Richey. Port Richey learned that we are planning a new downtown shuttle, due to start operating later this month, and expressed an interest in exploring how the two cities might do something similar to link the two business districts. In my opinion, this is very doable and the county commissioners expressed an interest in looking at this as well, in conjunction with their broader micro-mobility plans for West Pasco.
Rob Marlowe, Mayor