The days of one-way traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Davis Highway in Pensacola are likely numbered, and one idea being floated to handle two-way traffic for where the roads merge is a new roundabout.
Last year, the city asked the Florida-Alabama Transportation Planning Organization to conduct a feasibility study on converting the roads to two-way traffic. The study found the idea was feasible, but called for adding new traffic lights at Wright and Alcanz streets and a roundabout where MLK Drive and Davis Highway meet near the Interstate 110 Fairfield Drive exit.
The cost estimate for the entire project would be $7.9 million.
At its meeting Thursday, the City Council voted 6-1 to approve the study and recommend the TPO add the project to its five-year work plan.
Two way traffic: Would making MLK Drive and North Davis Davis two-way streets slow down traffic?
Councilwoman Sherri Myers cast the lone no vote because she opposed the idea of a roundabout at that location.
“I’m very concerned about this project,” Myers said. “When I saw that roundabout, it was shocking, and you know what, I just wonder what type of impact a roundabout around there in that area will have on people who live down there.”
Myers said she believes there needs to be more public input on the project before the roundabout idea is finalized.
“To have a roundabout down at that end, the Fairfield (Drive) end for that project, I can’t support that,” Myers said.
Councilman Andy Terhaar had the opposite reaction to the idea.
“When I saw this design, I was so excited because I love idea of the roundabout,” Terhaar said. “I mean, we need so many more of those in our community. They’re so much more efficient to moving traffic through intersections like these.”
Councilman John Jerralds, who represents District 5 where the roundabout will be located, said he supported forwarding the recommendation to the TPO, but believes it should be closely examined by the organization’s board. The TPO board includes the City Council, as well as the county commissions of both Escambia and Santa Rosa counties and representatives from local governments in Baldwin County, Alabama.
Jerralds’ term on the council ends in November, and District 5 voters will select a new council member in the general election.
“We’ll talk about it and investigate the positive and negative sides of both parts of the situation,” Jerralds said.
Jim Little can be reached at [email protected] and 850-208-9827.