City Considers Closure of Portion of Pier Park Drive

by July 27, 2011 • 29 comments

The City of Panama City Beach is considering closing two blocks of the “main drag” in Pier Park in an effort to make it more pedestrian friendly.  The blocks proposed to close are from the round-about by the Grand to the intersection that hosts Hofbrau Beer Garden and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge.  Traffic would still be able to pull into Pier Park from Front Beach Road, but they’d have to turn right or left at Hofbrau or Tootsies.  Same with the round-about – visitors would still be able to circumnavigate it, the Pier Park Drive South turnoff would just be blocked off.

These two blocks are the same two blocks that are often closed for special events, such as the July 4th Star Spangled Spectacular and the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop, the latter typcially closing the roads all the way to Front Beach Road.

Closure during summer months.

Panama City Beach Police Chief Robert Harding is proposing the closure occur one of two ways, both to begin from Memorial Day and end after Labor Day each year.

  1. Close the two blocks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
  2. Close the two blocks 7 days a week during that entire summer period
Benefits of the closure.

Currently there is already some disconnect as to the nature of the southern portion of Pier Park Drive.  During almost any summer day, there is so much foot traffic, mixed with cars, it’s actually quite a hazard.  There are designated walk-across areas, but with all the activity, it’s not uncommon for pedestrians to cross where they want.  Safety is a concern, and a clear benefit to the closure.

In addition to safety, the closure would allow more room for Pier Park visitors to freely move about from shop to shop during a time when there are literally tens of thousands coming through each day.  It would open the venue up dramatically.

Traffic ingress and egress would be minimally impacted as routes behind the shop’s buildings would still be accessible, through the parking areas.

What do you think?

What are your thoughts on this potential traffic road closure? Do you think it would help pedestrian safety?  Do you think it would enhance Pier Park?

 

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1 Nancy July 27, 2011 at 9:18 am

Seems like a good idea but what happens when there is a big event with one less way in and out?

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2 Jeff July 27, 2011 at 9:28 am

Good Idea. Hey Nancy, they already close this section for large events.

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3 John July 27, 2011 at 9:33 am

I don’t like the idea. I enjoy cruising down Pier Park Drive.

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4 Local July 27, 2011 at 10:02 am

I think it is a great idea, but not broad enough. As you know, the true congestion is from the main entrance at Front Beach Rd. to Tootsies. There is more foot traffic on these blocks and more people blocking traffic by dropping off others before going to find a parking space.

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5 Steve July 27, 2011 at 10:03 am

If it ain’t broke, dont try to fix it. Traffic is so slow, I don’t see any excessive safety hazard. The beach is a safety concern, but they don’t close it every day in the name of safety. I also enjoy cruising the strip. I drive the strip to show to a new visitor and they can’t wait to get back and walk it.

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6 Teresa July 27, 2011 at 10:07 am

As an owner of three rental properties that cater to families with young children. I am totally open to closing those streets to auto traffic. I think it was be a lot safer for the pedestrians, especially the children.

However, if they do not close the streets then something must be done to limit the motorcycle noise control. I had my grandson with me last night and one of the motorcycle’s revved his engine so loud it hurt our eardrums. My grandson (who is 3) grabbed his ears and started crying. This happens year after year. Even the adults complain about the noise. I am not anti-motorcycle, but the noise control is an issue.

I just want all to have a happy, safe, and fun time while in PCB.

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7 Jeanne July 27, 2011 at 12:24 pm

This seems to be a good solution. Now that Pier Park is so crowded (Yea!) there is congestion between pedestrians and cars and motorcycles. In the suggested plan, there will be still be egress at a light on Pier Park Drive and Front Beach Road for traffic turning left. A light for turning left is a necessity, but it doesn’t have to be at Pier Park Drive. All of Pier Park Drive could be closed, and the light placed at the east or west end of Pier Park, or both. The suggested plan would have minimal impact on local traffic since locals know better through streets than Pier Park drive anyway.

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8 Kevin Morgan July 27, 2011 at 3:25 pm

I agree with a 7 day a week closure during the summer months. There’s enough “cruising” going on on Front Beach Road that a more “pedestrian friendly” environment would be welcome, along with the safety factor.

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9 Jason Koertge July 27, 2011 at 4:32 pm

I think it’s a great idea. Traffic ingress and egress won’t really change, and it’ll open the whole area up.

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10 sharon campbell July 28, 2011 at 8:50 am

What a great idea! How nice it will be to not have to worry about our grandchildren (and other’s little ones) getting hit by a car while visiting our amazing Pier Park!

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11 Jenn July 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

I think it is a good idea. It will make it safe for the children’s train since it has to share the road with the other traffic.

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12 Becky N. July 28, 2011 at 10:15 am

Good idea!

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13 WENDY T July 28, 2011 at 10:28 am

I THINK THEY SHOULD CLOSE THE STREET SEVEN DAYS A WEEK. THERE ARE ALOT OF PEOPLE AND ESPECIALLY CHILDREN IN THAT AREA . I THINK FROM THE MOVIE THEATER DOWN TO FRONT BEACH ROAD WOULD BE THE BEST IDEA. ESPECIALLY WITH ALL THE RIDES, VENDORS, ETC. I DO NOT HAVE LITTLE CHILDREN ANYMORE, BUT IT DOES MAKE IT DIFFICULT TO GET AROUND IN THAT SECTION. ALSO, I TALKED TO A FRIEND THAT IS A SHOP OWNER IN THAT SECTION AND THEIR BUSINESS IS DOING REALLY WELL IN THAT AREA OF PIER PARK WITH ALL THE PEDESTRIAN TRAFFIC DURING THE TOURIST SEASON! DOWNTOWN DIDNEY IS ALL PEDESTRIAN AND IT WORKS!

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14 WENDY T July 28, 2011 at 10:29 am

I MEANT DISNEY…SORRY FOR THE TYPO

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15 Cathy July 28, 2011 at 10:49 am

In my opinion…….. from the Movie Theater turnabout to Front Beach Road would be wonderful with the exception of letting the Kid’s Train ride use this street. We have always in the past wondered just why the Kid’s Train ride run with the other autos and cycles, it just seemed to question a “Safety ” issue in our minds.
Visitors can park & now walk these streets without the fear of being hit by a vehicle. I don’t believe it will hurt their business at all in fact it will probably increase it.
If some don’t like this idea… why not consider closing this section at certain parts of the year possibly (June 1, on) and opening it in less crowded parts (September 1, on). This may help considerable & it will still give people who enjoy driving that area the chance to do so. Or even drive in the daytime hours 9 to 3 and from 3 to 9 walking only.
Just my thoughts……..
Cathy/Tennessee

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16 John Shook July 28, 2011 at 11:04 am

I think it is a good idea and I think that downtown Panama City ought to copy the plan as well. Make Harrison Ave between 4th & 5th Pedestrian only or at least make it one way. Reroute the traffic down Grace to west and Luverne to the East. Most of the parking is on those two streets any way. This is an idea I’ve seen work in other places. Pier Park & PCB should for sure do it. Downtown PC should consider it.

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17 karen July 28, 2011 at 11:15 am

This does not seem to need that long of a discussion…if the change would be dramatic in letting people move more freely –as your article indicated–and not cause a disruption to traffic…it should have already been done….city council should not wait for a terrible accident to make the decision!
Having cars and people/children ‘walking together’ is never a good plan…and once you have been in the ‘mess’ you will always turn off so as not to get ‘bogged down’ again…unless of course you are one of those ‘joy riders’…
The council needs to change to every day memorial/labor day and then revert to the open plan the rest of the year when its not so busy.
This is not a discussion on the Debt…. get the job done!

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18 Ken Karr July 28, 2011 at 11:37 am

I like the pedestrian walk ways. It will be like Key West or other areas in the tourist markets. It will help Pier Park not hurt.
Ken Karr

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19 Jane peaden July 28, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I think that is an excellent idea. I would like to see it closed from the south side on especially so that the pier and pier park crowd are safe.
Panama City Beach is right back to a horrible noise level based on too many car and the cruising that ruined the Beach in the 80’s and 90’s Thought that was going to change when I bought in 1994 but we have slid backwards, now we are loosing 15 % per years and cheaper rental and resales than any other Beach on the Emerald cost. I know, I have been selling resort properties for 32 years. Perhaps no riding around with open cams, no open cans on the streets and no carrying people in the back of their truck, might help, Kindest regards Jane Peaden

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20 L. A. Hight July 28, 2011 at 8:15 pm

I’m ok with summer closing , we walk everywhere and it is getting a little scary sometimes in that area

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21 Larry Carmadelle Jr July 29, 2011 at 12:30 pm

I think it is a wonderful idea I had the same idea.It would make it much easier to walk around and not worry about the traffic while you are there.And it would make it easier to get around Miracle Strip.Need to do it for Spring Break also and not just the summer season.Will be in PCB August 7th-11th can not wait. Thank You.

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22 Shane Cook July 31, 2011 at 12:51 am

I do not like the idea as I very much enjoy riding my motorcycle and cruising in my car with my family through pier park. I sure hope they keep it as is since this is one of my favorite things to do while at PCB.

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23 Lee August 1, 2011 at 9:00 am

This one is a little tough to call. I do believe that it is necessary to close the area to traffic, but I think 7 days a week is overkill. Even if it’s the summer, there really isn’t enough activity to close off the road. For the summer, the weekends should be enough. And depending on conditions during the off-season, maybe one day a week?

Also wanting to comment on the noise and traffic flow issues. PCB and Pier Park security need to step things up and stop being so passive. Drivers stopping every 10 feet to pick up passengers annoys everyone, creates backup, and could potentially cause collisions.

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24 Nicole Cook August 1, 2011 at 9:53 pm

Please…..let it be! As a property owner, Pier Park has increased visability of Panama City Beach, …continue developing Pier Park instead of restricting what is was intended to do, bring people back to PCB! As for as safety, pedestrians must use caution when walking near any road, why is this any different? There are many pedestrian walkways that my family and I use to get from place to place. Also, motorized vehicle speed is a minumum especially during peek times! We have to excersie caution when parking and walking to the shops at Pier Park. Diverting traffic into the parking areas will only make those more congested. Everyone just needs to excersie common courstey and remember to watch out for each other!

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25 Dan McCarty August 4, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Good idea!!! Close 7 days a week through the summer.

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26 wendy August 4, 2011 at 6:21 pm

I agree with the chief. While in PCB for the first time this May it was a little awkward dodging traffic in Pier Park.I would have hung out longer and enjoyed it more .
P.S I’m quite inpressed with all the development and may relocate there.Keep up the good work!!!!

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27 ron August 4, 2011 at 8:32 pm

Great idea, I hate trying to get across the traffic, once even had a near miss with my kids.

Making it pedestrian friendly also drive more foot traffic into stores as you move back and forth across the street. Maybe some other coffee places can go into the center, or space for artists and musicians.

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28 nick August 14, 2011 at 11:47 am

Great Idea, this would keep the rednecks from cruising the area with their trucks!

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29 Sherry September 21, 2011 at 9:18 am

Hey, can anyone tell me how to find the concert events?

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