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Dock Street: the next big fix?

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By Kellie Parkin

Just one month after the Cedar Key Commission decided how to fix traffic flow on Whiddon Ave., a new road has come under review.

Commissioner Gene Hodges said that he has concerns about safety and space on Dock Street. He said that recently he had to stop and fold his truck’s side mirrors in order to drive down the street.

“Its really kind of unsafe now on the dock,” said Hodges. “A number of citizens have come to me and said ‘I don’t even go down to the dock anymore.’” Hodges said that when the sidewalks were widened it made the street unusable.

“Something needs to be done to get that thing a little wider,” he said.

Resident Barbara McJordan agreed with Commissioner Hodges. “Somebody had to know when you put a sidewalk that wide, it would leave a smaller street,” she said. “It’s just a mess.”

“We have a messed up dock down there,” McJordan said. “From the day it was done, no one was happy with it.”

Paul Rimavicus concurred. “We do need something down there,” he said. “Something has to be done.”

Fire Chief Robert Robinson told commissioners that the congested street poses a potential safety risk. He said that it would be difficult for the fire department to get a truck onto the street during peak hours. “If we were to get called, we would have to call police to clear Dock Street.”

Commissioners discussed making Dock Street a one way road with angled parking along one side. Designated unloading areas for delivery trucks were also suggested.

Another option to create greater accessibility would be to make it a one way street with the current parallel parking on both sides of the road.

Concern was voiced that employees and business owners utilize a majority of the parking on Dock Street, thereby taking away space from patrons.

Inaccessibility on the street is not necessarily caused by the width of the road. City Attorney David Coffey pointed out that Dock Street is actually bigger than 2nd Street is directly in front of City Hall. “It’s one foot wider than 2nd Street right out here,” he said. It feels less wide because of the continuous chain of parked cars, he said. Dock Street is 33 feet wide from curb to curb throughout its length and 2nd Street is 32 feet wide right in front of City Hall, he said.

Coffey told the commission that there was an engineering recommendation made a while back that suggested implementing significant gaps to serve as loading areas could ease congestion. Enforcement of the loading zones may be an issue, he added.

Commissioner Scott Dennison suggested a workshop to get more public input.

Commissioner Sue Colson disagreed with the need for a public workshop. She said that a trial period would better serve the situation by providing a more immediate solution.

Mayor Heath Davis asked Public Works Director Josh Wilson to work with Police Chief Virgil Sandlin and Fire Chief Robinson to research the benefits of parallel vs. angled parking, including the number of parking spaces each would provide, and to present a report of their findings at the next commission meeting May 5.

The commission is expected to make a decision at that time.