ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- Any holiday weekend is busy in downtown St. Augustine. It means more cars are on the roads and more drivers are looking for places to park.
St. Augustine is looking at ways to ease parking and traffic woes, but one of the suggestions is not sitting well with business owners.
Business owners along San Marco Avenue in St. Augustine say on-street parking is so important for their businesses. And they're asking the city to not get rid of them.
The "Trust the Bus" food truck sits on San Marco Avenue.
Bradley Banion's grill isn't the only thing sizzling there. Parking and traffic are hot topics there too.
"Fewer parking spaces for Uptown is going to be detrimental to business owners," he said.
This area is called Uptown. It's the part of San Marco Avenue that runs from the carousel south to the fort.
"They have limited parking in the Uptown area," Banion said.
Many of the shops and businesses here don't have parking lots of their own, and they rely on the parking spaces on the side of the street.
But changes are coming to San Marco. The Florida Department of Transportation plans to resurface the road, which will eliminate 30 percent of on-street parking.
Reuben Franklin of the City of St. Augustine said, "That's all because of sight distance, conflicts with intersections at neighborhoods along the corridor."
The city is also considering a couple more options, such as creating bike lanes or a shared bike and shuttle lane. Shuttles would then take visitors to a satellite parking lot. Those options would cut out all on-street parking.
Banion doesn't like any of it. "It'll hurt me because I'll have less side street parking that people can stop in and say hello or buy food."
Franklin noted, "In areas where we have businesses, like in the Uptown area, we'd look at providing a plan to go forth to get some off-street parking in the vicinity to help compensate for the loss of the on-street parking."
However, man merchants say that still will hurt their business. Many business owners also note that the shuttles -- which would take visitors from satellite parking lots to downtown -- would bypass them altogether.
"Totally," Banion nodded. "It would bypass every one of these businesses that rely on street parking."
Banion and other business owners hope the city cooks up a different idea to handle traffic and parking on San Marco Avenue. He says tourists want to park close to the places they visit.
"The tourists," Banion stated. "That's our big machine. If you stop that, that'll hurt our economy."
Many business owners along San Marco plan to meet June 14. They're hoping representatives from the city will join them to talk about this issue.
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