Local roads can alleviate S.R. 85 traffic, consultant says

Renaissance Group

Renaissance Planning Group Vice President/Principal Whit Blanton presents his company’s Comprehensive Transportation Plan to the Crestview City Council.

BRIAN HUGHES | News Bulletin
Published: Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 12:21 PM.

CRESTVIEW — It will come as little surprise to motorists slogging through northbound State Road 85 rush hour traffic to learn the city’s traffic consultant said that the major north-south artery is a major impediment to the community’s growth. During a Nov. 26 presentation to the Crestview City Council, the consultant reported a key is not expanding the state highway, but removing more local traffic from it.

Whit Blanton, vice president and principal of the Renaissance Planning Group, told council members that with the city’s projected growth — the population is expected to double to more than 40,000 residents within 25 years — but little federal or state highway funding, it’s up to the city to find creative ways to alleviate traffic on S.R. 85’s problem stretch between P.J. Adams Parkway and downtown.

“The wait won’t be growing shorter, it will be growing longer,” Blanton said.

“The big issue in looking at how to evaluate the different transportation connections is how to alleviate the traffic on 85,” Blanton said. “There’s not much you can do about 85 but there is something you can do about trips beginning or ending in Crestview. About 60 percent of the traffic that is on 85 has a beginning or end in the city of Crestview.”

A partial solution to alleviating some of that traffic is to make it easier to access destinations in town with a network of east-west and north-south connections that make it easier for local traffic to access businesses and residential areas without having to travel on S.R. 85, the Renaissance study stated. The group’s study showed local traffic on S.R. 85 could be reduced by as much as 35 percent using a local road network.

“Economic development is not going to happen if you don’t have good connectivity,” Blanton said.

Using roads such as the Brookmeade Drive extension has already alleviated some of the S.R. 85 congestion by routing local traffic north from Wal-Mart behind the North Okaloosa Medical Center, Blanton observed. Motorists taking “the back way,” using Brookmeade to Redstone Avenue and Okaloosa Lane to U.S. Highway 90, bypass S.R. 85 entirely.

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