ST. PETE BEACH — City leaders gave the green light June 23 to new rules that would help keep large buses and trucks off residential streets, which some residents say have created a “nightmare” for their neighborhoods.
The city’s truck and bus route ordinance hadn’t been touched for roughly 50 years before residents expressed concerns about large vehicle traffic coming to and from Hotel Zamora at 37th Avenue and Gulf Boulevard, said Michelle Gonzalez, the city’s director of transportation and parking.
City staff examined the route map and ordinance and made suggestions to city commissioners in February, including a proposal to regulate large vehicles and keep them off residential streets from 11 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. in many areas.
City Manager Alex Rey said the pandemic forced staff to wait until now to present the amended ordinance to commissioners, who voted 5-0 on first reading to make the changes.
“It’s really going to solve a lot of problems,” said St. Pete Beach resident Lisa Signorelli.
She told commissioners large trucks that are too wide for residential streets are cutting through neighborhoods to make deliveries.
“What’s happening is the sharp turns to go down 36th or 37th (avenues), they’re running over the corners and they’re ruining our infrastructure,” she said of the roads just blocks north of the Don CeSar.
“It has been a nightmare,” she added.
Gonzalez said the new language in the ordinance would regulate vehicles more than 16,000 pounds that are used for transporting people, property, or freight. Government, utility, and personal vehicles will not be considered a regulated vehicle.
Therefore, vehicles such as privately-owned motorhomes wouldn’t apply.
“Basically, if you have like an Amazon delivery or UPS truck, they can still access the residential streets, they just have to go along Gulf Boulevard and then deviate at the closest path and then come back directly on,” Gonzalez said.
However, truck and bus traffic will be restricted at all times on East Maritana, East Casablanca, 46th Avenue, 45th Avenue, Lido Drive and Second Street East.
The changes also will establish fines for traffic violations that will be put into an account for roadway and signage improvements and can be used toward expansion of transit service, and bicycle and pedestrian improvements along the truck/bus route, city documentation states.
In order to enforce it, Gonzalez said new signs would first have to be installed so drivers of large trucks know what roads are off limits and when.
Then, the city could possibly request Sheriff’s Office deputies educate and enforce any trucks that deviate off course.
A second and final public hearing on the proposed changes to the ordinance will be held at a commission meeting in July.