Changes at popular car wash should improve traffic flow


The occasional traffic snags at the entrance of the wildly popular Classic Car Wash of Vero Beach – located on U.S. 1 at the west end of the city’s Miracle Mile – will be addressed as part of a two-summer, two-phase renovation and reconfiguration project expected to begin next month.

According to Mark Heyer, who owns the business, the first phase will include remodeling and refurbishing the existing car-wash building, as well as installing new, “top-of-the-line, state-of-the-art” machinery and equipment.

Heyer said the second phase, scheduled for the summer of 2023, will create a new Florida Department of Transportation-approved entrance to the car wash on the property on which the now-shuttered Bernadette’s Dog Grooming shop is located, immediately east of his business.

He said he purchased the neighboring parcel last summer and plans to knock down the Bernadette’s building and regrade the land to accommodate a longer, three-vehicle-wide driveway that won’t cause traffic to back up on U.S. 1 when cars are lined up to get in.

“We get it: This has been a problem for many years,” Heyer said. “It’s a good problem to have, because it means business is good. Moving the entrance next door should alleviate the problem.”

The new driveway will lead to the back of the detail center. The rear wall will be removed, and the remaining structure will become an area for vacuuming and prepping vehicles for entry into the automated car wash.

The front section of the car wash building will be “cut off,” as Heyer put it, to create a larger area for towel-drying vehicles and finishing the cleaning process. Customers will depart the premises and access U.S. 1 through the existing exit, which will be wider.

Heyer said the business will remain open throughout both phases, offering washes by hand this summer.

Asked if his crew can handle the expected capacity washing vehicles by hand, Heyer replied:

“We’re going to try. The only other option would be to close, and we don’t want to do that.

Heyer declined to say how many cars pass through his car wash each day, but the lines are noticeably longer when Vero Beach’s seasonal residents and visitors are in town.

Heyer said he hoped to embark on the first phase on June 1, but was forced to delay until June 15 because of supply-chain issues. He expects the refurbished car wash building to reopen in October.

Vero Beach Planning Director Jason Jeffries said Heyer requested the minor zoning change to expand the business – it’s expected to get final approval this week – and submitted the required site plan to remodel the car wash building.

Heyer’s plans for the second phase still need to be approved, but Jeffries said he didn’t anticipate any problem, adding that the city also wants to see the car wash’s entrance made safer.

By the fall of 2023, when both phases of the project are scheduled for completion, Heyer said the flow of vehicles through the car-wash process should be smoother and faster.

That, too, should eliminate the backups that sometimes occur in the right, northbound lane of U.S. 1, despite Heyer having posted signs asking customers to not block the road and assigning someone to direct vehicles off the road and into lines as quickly as possible.

“We have the signs and we’re doing the best we can,” he said, “but we’re not traffic cops.”

Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey welcomed Heyer’s efforts, which he said will eventually make that area safer for customers and motorists navigating a sometimes-confusing interchange – where northbound U.S. 1 bends west and merges with westbound 21st Street, immediately east of the car wash’s entrance and exit.

He said he appreciated Heyer’s ongoing willingness to work with his department.

“I haven’t heard of any complaints recently, but it’s something we’ve had to address over the years, and Mark has always been helpful,” Currey said. “I know he’s been out there helping with traffic, and we’ve been out there trying to keep it safe.”

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