By: Danielle Anderson, A1A Scenic Byway Program Administrator

For a second I’m putting on my other hat. Look people, I was just as freaked out as the rest of you. At first when the legislation was filed, it was just the south end, and we all sort of took it as a joke. But it kept getting traction in the news as a whisper campaign. And then the legislation was changed to include all of A1A and that’s when **** got serious.

House Bill 91

Senate Bill 84

Do I like Jimmy Buffett? Sure. We even included a reference to him in our 2020 All-American Road application narrative to the Federal Highway Administration (and for the record, we referenced Vanilla Ice too) to bump up our designation.

But the misinformation has normal people freaking out, and even after I’d done the research – this is an HONORARY name change – you know, the little (brown) signs on the side of the road announcing a memorial name, and KNOW this, and researching that each county commission would have to accept the designation, today’s headlines still had me on edge. Enough to formally shoot off the ‘If, Then’ letter from our Friends of A1A Board of Directors.

Here’s the non-hype truth.

If Governor DeSantis signs the bill, it’s ok. We all like Jimmy Buffett. And we still get to keep A1A as A1A. She’s about to be 100 years old in 2027, and nobody is messing with this great lady on our watch.

Here’s the Official what has to happen next:

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Title XXVI
Chapter 334
View Entire Chapter
334.071 Legislative designation of transportation facilities.—
(1) Designation of a transportation facility contained in an act of the Legislature is for honorary or memorial purposes or to distinguish a particular facility, and unless specifically provided for, shall not be construed to require any action by a local government or private party regarding the changing of any street signs, mailing address, or 911 emergency telephone number system listing.
(2) The effect of such designations shall only be construed to require the placement of markers by the department at the termini or intersections specified for each highway segment or bridge designated, and as authority for the department to place other markers as appropriate for the transportation facility being designated.
(3) Erection of markers shall be contingent on the appropriate city or county commission passing a resolution in support of the particular honorary designation. If the bridge or road segment being designated is located in more than one city or county, resolutions supporting the designation must be passed by each affected local government prior to the erection of the markers.
History.—s. 44, ch. 99-385; s. 58, ch. 2003-286.

So, including me, who knows the process but let other media sources scare the crap out of me anyway, our formal letter of concern has been lodged with the Governor’s Office (and our members of Congress).

For the other people concerned about the cost, etc. there are some benefits from a tourism and marketing standpoint that add a new dimension to the mix. Did you know parts of A1A are also designated Gullah Geechee Heritage Corridor and The Buccaneer Trail? It’s true. So, if this is going down that same road with Jimmy Buffett, I’m ok with that.

Anything else, no way.

Image: A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, Merriam Multimedia