Exercise your middle fingers.
Go ahead and figure out how to unfriend me on Facebook.
I’m about to be unpopular with a lot of South Waltoners.
You have been warned.
Before I turn on the hot water faucet, dear reader, you should know that I’ve lived in South Walton County for a total of 13 years and have owned a home here for 11. So this is not coming from someone with no ties to the area.
Tourist season traffic on 30A causes much consternation with visitors and locals alike. The Watercolor/Seaside/Seagrove strip in particular resembles a parking lot most days with traffic moving at a snail’s pace, if at all. Somewhat amazingly, most folks accept it for what it is: Three popular, dense tourist areas jammed up against one another with no real way to maneuver around other than, yes, 30A.
And heaven help you if you try to get down there for a major event. Leave three hours early if you want to even have half a prayer of arriving at your destination on time. But again, most folks accept it for what it is.
Now — for the umpteenth time in the last decade — calls have risen from the ashes for a tram service or some sort of public transportation “to relieve the congestion” on 30A. Some seek an entrepreneur to sink his or her dollars into a service. Others are calling on the county government to get involved.
Only three words come to mind when I hear these calls: Don’t do it. Wait. That should be: DON’T DO IT!
On the surface a tram service sounds like a sweet little idea. Pack those puppies full of tourists, cart them and their chairs and coolers and kids and sand buckets and nets and rafts down the beach, dump them off (I still haven’t figured out where) and pick up more, turn around…and do it all over again.
Raise your hand if you think the Watercolor/Seaside/Seagrove crowd (residents or visitors) buys into this idea. OK. Eleven of you raised your hands, Eleven is not enough.
They’re not going to sit on a tram, sweating their butts off with a bunch of strangers. And worse — yes, worse — because so few will use such a service, the trams will, yes, sit in traffic and just be one more gas-guzzling behemoth doing the 30A Crawl.
I wish I had more faith that a tram system would make a significant impact on the 30A traffic situation. But I don’t. This is not Myrtle Beach where the roads are wide and there are numerous escape routes off of the main roads (something 30A sorely lacks).
30A is a two-lane with limited ingress and egress that sports highly popular tourist destinations. If the county ever steps up and actually puts a light at the CR393 intersection, that will help matters. But even that will not solve the problem.
Folks need to face one simple fact: We live on a long, popular sandbar. Traffic has been a problem for years and it will be always be a problem. There is no escaping it. There’s no fixing it to any great degree. It is the price we pay for living where we do.
Please, Walton County Board of County Commissioners, do not jump on this bandwagon bound for nowhere. If someone has a ton of personal money to burn, let them do it. But taxpayer dollars should not be thrown down this asphalt drain.