The Town of Loxahatchee Groves has ordered 30-mile-per-hour speed limit signs for Okeechobee Blvd. and Folsom Road, but the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council is not united about how to implement the change.
The council unanimously approved a resolution in June reducing the speed limit on the two roads from 45 to 30 mph.
On Tuesday, Town Manager Bill Underwood said he is still working on details of implementation, including an agreement with Palm Beach County on the responsibilities of the town regarding road maintenance.
Although the signs are ordered, about 30 in all, Underwood said additional financing may be necessary if the county imposes other responsibilities on the town, such as maintenance of caution lights at the fire station and elementary school, currently being handled by the county.
They also are still negotiating other issues, such as road striping.
Councilman Todd McClendon said he had read through County Engineer George Webb’s e-mails
to the town and didn’t agree with some of the things he wrote.
“These things like striping on the road, it just doesn’t make sense that that could be accurate,” McLendon said, adding that if the town assumes responsibility, it should get the gas tax money.
Town Attorney Michael Cirullo said gas tax money can’t be shared.
“Right now, the county’s vision is that we only have traffic control jurisdiction, but not maintenance jurisdiction,” Cirullo said. “That is one of those things that is going to be part of the discussion.”
Council members also discussed taking ownership of the road, which would entitle them to additional gas tax money, but Vice Mayor Tom Goltzené said he would like to remain on the topic of the speed limit signs.
Underwood said he does not have an arrival date for the signs, but he wanted to work with Webb regarding the transition, so he knows who is responsible for certain things, such as maintenance of caution lights.
“We need to go ahead and put up these signs now, because you may never get that resolution,” Goltzené said. “I think Mr. Webb has gone as far as he’s going, and we need to put the signs up, move forward with that and discuss it with county staff, not George Webb.”
Mayor Dave Browning said they should probably look into informational signs advising motorists of the coming speed limit change.
Goltzené said they also need to make arrangements with the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office for enforcement.
Councilman Ron Jarriel said he had heard residents complain about the coming speed limit change, and objected to the possibility of losing planned traffic lights in return for the speed limit change. “It doesn’t bother me that we’re reducing it to 30 miles per hour,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll bring in some revenue, but when we weigh the fact that the red light at Folsom and Okeechobee, which the county had agreed to, and the developer, we give that up according to the county.”
Jarriel suggested meeting with the county’s elected leadership.
“The county staff works for the county commissioners. We haven’t even approached the county commissioners, but we’re willing to give up the red light at D Road, the red light at Folsom to reduce the speed limit down to 30 miles per hour?” Jarriel asked. “It’s unbelievable what we’re fixing to put on our residents as far as trying to make it a safer road.”
Jarriel also pointed out that a letter from the county stated that it reserved its right to widen Okeechobee Blvd. to four lanes when it becomes necessary.
“We don’t have any say-so, so is it worth the sacrifice to reduce it down to 30 miles an hour to give up the other things that we possibly could have gotten for the residents?” he asked.
Browning said he was not ready to give up on the traffic light promised as part of the Minto/Westlake agreement.
“I talked to the mayor of the new town out there and he has assured me that they’re not going to do just what Minto wants, so we still have a chance of them honoring the commitment that they made to the county commission to pay for that light at D Road, so it’s not a done deal,” he said. “We’re in a chess game, and I agree we need to sit down with the county commissioner.”