Battle over barriers brews in St. Johns County

Vilano Beach residents want barriers down; Both sides say there's safety issues

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Vilano Beach residents are frustrated over barriers put up on May Street in St. Augustine, to keep drivers from cutting through the Nelmar Terrace neighborhood. 

The issue was first raised by the Vilano Beach Main Street Group.

The barriers were put up by the city of St. Augustine at the May Street ends of Douglas and Magnolia avenues because Nelmar Terrace neighborhood were upset with all the cut-through traffic by cars coming into St. Augustine from the Vilano Beach Causeway. 

But Vilano Beach residents want the barriers down, saying the backup is getting worse. 

"These barricades are an obstruction, and they actually put everybody on the other side of the bridge in danger. It takes us 45 minutes to come from Vilano to get over into the mainland over by San Marco," said Maria Rivero, a Vilano Beach resident. 

Reports show that many people showed up to a meeting Wednesday night with St. Augustine Mayor Nancy Shevar, begging for changes to be made. 

Some people believe the barriers are a safety concern during emergencies. 

"Things happen over here. People get in the water and get into trouble on the beach. And if EMS can't get to them, or if a house catches fire -- those are big engines that have to come through here," Rivero said.

Both sides have expressed safety issues. 

People living in Vilano Beach said the barriers are also causing traffic delays. But some Nelmar Terrace residents said the barriers have helped alleviate safety concerns.

"People were speeding through the neighborhood, running stop signs and they still come through here, but nowhere near the amount of the people that were coming," said one resident who wished to remain anonymous.

Shaver told News4Jax on Thursday that the city of St. Augustine has conducted several studies on the traffic patterns near May Street, saying none of the emergency personnel have had issues getting where they need to be.