SEASIDE Fla. (WMBB)– One South Walton beach community has a new way to limit traffic to encourage more safety.
Over four million visitors come to South Walton every year, many times choosing to drive from their hometowns. Although it may be convenient for visitors, traffic in some beach communities suffers as a result.
“Especially since they’ve closed the town center, parking has been crazier than ever,” said a Seaside visitor Carter Mitchell.
On many occasions, visitors and residents have to circle Seaside just to find one single parking spot. Visitors Carter and Laura Mitchell experience this every time they travel from Birmingham.
“For 20 to 30 minutes sometimes,” said Mitchell.
But Seaside officials are starting to charge for parking and encourage other forms of transportation.
“So when we have over four million people visiting South Walton, we know that a good portion of that, those folks are coming to Seaside,” said Seaside Director of Commercial Operations Kerri Parker.
Now when visitors come to the Seaside, and they bring their own vehicle, they will be paying $15 a day to park in the Somalian Circle. Parking attendants will instruct visitors on which spots are available.
But Parker said there are other ways to get to Seaside if you do not want to pay.
“You can take our free shuttle or you can ride your bike, or you can take your golf cart,” said Parker.
Motorists who want to use the shuttle can park for free at Highway 283 Grayton Beach parking lot. Parker said this pay-to-park plan has been in the making for eight years, and they hope it will increase pedestrian safety and decrease parking issues.
This program started Monday, April 19, and will go through October. That is when officials will re-assess and make any necessary changes.