The City of Panama City Beach is considering closing two blocks of the “main drag” in Pier Park in an effort to make it more pedestrian friendly. The blocks proposed to close are from the round-about by the Grand to the intersection that hosts Hofbrau Beer Garden and Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge. Traffic would still be able to pull into Pier Park from Front Beach Road, but they’d have to turn right or left at Hofbrau or Tootsies. Same with the round-about – visitors would still be able to circumnavigate it, the Pier Park Drive South turnoff would just be blocked off.
These two blocks are the same two blocks that are often closed for special events, such as the July 4th Star Spangled Spectacular and the New Year’s Eve Beach Ball Drop, the latter typcially closing the roads all the way to Front Beach Road.
Closure during summer months.
Panama City Beach Police Chief Robert Harding is proposing the closure occur one of two ways, both to begin from Memorial Day and end after Labor Day each year.
- Close the two blocks on Friday, Saturday and Sunday
- Close the two blocks 7 days a week during that entire summer period
Benefits of the closure.
Currently there is already some disconnect as to the nature of the southern portion of Pier Park Drive. During almost any summer day, there is so much foot traffic, mixed with cars, it’s actually quite a hazard. There are designated walk-across areas, but with all the activity, it’s not uncommon for pedestrians to cross where they want. Safety is a concern, and a clear benefit to the closure.
In addition to safety, the closure would allow more room for Pier Park visitors to freely move about from shop to shop during a time when there are literally tens of thousands coming through each day. It would open the venue up dramatically.
Traffic ingress and egress would be minimally impacted as routes behind the shop’s buildings would still be accessible, through the parking areas.
What do you think?
What are your thoughts on this potential traffic road closure? Do you think it would help pedestrian safety? Do you think it would enhance Pier Park?