We sometimes get so wrapped up in the crisis du jour that we forget about some of the longer term goals for the city. The City Council approves a five year CIP (Capital Improvement Plan) each year that helps identify how we are going to get certain key projects done, but even the CIP can leave you wondering what the long term strategic vision is for the City.
One strategic goal is to make New Port Richey more bicycle and pedestrian friendly.
We have added a couple of nice multi-use trails over the past couple of years. Viewed in isolation, one might wonder why we would put in trails that don’t connect to much of anything. The answer is that they are part of a much larger whole.
The Marine Parkway trail is a good example. It runs from Grand Blvd to US 19. We’ve already got part of the funding to put a pedestrian / bicycle bridge over US 19. This would allow people on the east side of the highway to get to the Southgate Shopping Plaza safely. So what about the other end?
The next piece of the puzzle is to get from Marine Parkway to the Grand Blvd bridge over the Cotee River. There are actually a couple of possibilities that wouldn’t be terribly expensive to do. One would be to continue to route pedestrian traffic down the sidewalk along Grand and route bicycle traffic via a “sharrow” that is marked to show that both bicycles and motor vehicles are sharing the road. One potential sharrow route would be down George Street. There are other routes west of Grand that would work too. We need to look at them all.
Once you get to the Cotee River bridge, it becomes fairly easy to figure out a route north to the downtown. Narrowing Grand to make room for a multi-use path is one option. Another would be to route bicycle traffic through the residential streets that run north of the river and south of Main Street. Having a route that hits Main Street at the Lincoln Street crosswalk and the south entrance to Sims Park would be very nice. The exact routing of such a bike route needs further thought and discussion.
The sharrow concept would work north of Sims Park all the way to Massachusetts Avenue. There are sidewalks for pedestrians along the river and the vehicle traffic is light enough to make it safe to ride a bike on that stretch of Grand.
North of Massachusetts becomes a bit more problematic as there are no sidewalks along Grand and the alternative routes are not conducive for bicycles, pedestrians, or both. Port Richey has dusted off some of their ideas for making Port Richey more pedestrian and bicycle friendly and I’ve talked with their Vice Mayor about our desire to coordinate plans with them so that you can get from New Port Richey to Port Richey safely.
We will keep kicking around different options and may try some of them out on a temporary basis to see how they work in practice. The key is that we are trying to make it safe to bicycle and walk from the south side of town to the north side and beyond.