Improvements by developer Minto Communities on Seminole Pratt Whitney Road through its new City of Westlake near The Acreage are progressing despite rain delays and permit issues between Palm Beach County and the City of West Palm Beach, according to Minto representatives.
The completion date for the road project is expected to be the summer of 2018, which will open up a bottleneck from Seminole Ridge High School north almost to 60th Street. That stretch of roadway has been unfinished since the county widened the road to four lanes on the north to Northlake Blvd. and on the south to Southern Blvd. (State Road 80).
Minto’s new western-most lanes are finished and open to traffic.
Heavy summer rains always present challenges to major road construction projects, such as the Seminole Pratt Whitney Road widening, which is being performed by the Seminole Improvement District, which controls canals, drainage and roads in the Westlake area.
The bridge crossing over the M Canal experienced a significant delay due to the City of West Palm Beach refusing to issue a permit for the bridge crossing, but the Seminole Improvement District, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County have resolved the concerns and the permit has been issued.
The widening also required the removal and burial of FPL power lines, as well as AT&T and Comcast telecommunications lines, located on poles on the east side of the road. The relocation and burial of these overhead lines is a significant undertaking, and created major challenges to construction of the new lanes on the east side of the right of way, according to a statement from Minto representatives.
All of the utilities located on the poles are on track to be removed by late September or early October, which will eliminate the final obstruction, making way for the road contractor to move at full speed to finish the project.
Resolution of the M Canal permit, overhead utility burial and moving into the drier fall/winter season will result in noticeable progress on the road construction toward the end of year, according to the Minto statement.
The expansion of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road is primarily focused on improving the two-lane road from Seminole Ridge High School to 60th Street to a four-lane divided highway with a landscaped median. The design also provides for the expansion to a six-lane highway when traffic warrants the need. Residents within the future Westlake residential areas will access the road through signalized intersections.
The commercial and retail development along Seminole Pratt Whitney Road will also utilize the signalized intersections, but the road will have turn lanes into the commercial and retail areas at midpoints between the signalized intersections. This design will allow for efficient flow of traffic along Seminole Pratt Whitney Road and will move traffic accessing the residential areas and retail/commercial areas away from through traffic to minimize traffic congestion, Minto officials explained.
Drivers along Seminole Pratt Whitney Road will also notice the 80-foot-wide landscape buffers and berms. The medians of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road are being planted with trees to further enhance the streetscape.
An overpass to accommodate water flow and small-boat access under Seminole Pratt Whitney Road was studied early in the master-planning process, and the studies concluded that the vertical height required to raise Seminole Pratt would present traffic safety concerns.
However, drainage connectivity under Seminole Pratt Whitney Road was maintained to provide efficient stormwater discharge. Drivers along Seminole Pratt Whitney Road today can see 84-inch culverts being installed just south of 60th Street. This size of pipe would allow a 6-foot-6 person to easily walk through the drainage pipe and will provide a significant benefit to preserving drainage flow for the community, according to Minto representatives.
The project will tie in with future growth in the area to include the four lanes currently under construction, with infrastructure in place to easily allow six lanes to be built at ultimate build-out, which could be several decades away.
The road contractor will need to perform several more lane shifts to complete the road expansion and construct the M Canal bridge. As part of the maintenance of traffic procedures in advance of any changes to traffic patterns, variable-message signs will be posted to alert drivers to upcoming changes.
As part of its development agreement with Palm Beach County, Minto agreed to spend $25 million to improve the 1.5-mile stretch of Seminole Pratt Whitney Road.
The road improvements are intended to accommodate Minto’s plans to build as many as 4,500 homes and 2.2 million square feet of non-residential development on the 3,800-acre former Callery-Judge Grove property. Now known as the City of Westlake, the county’s 39th municipality, the area incorporated in the summer of 2016.
Minto broke ground on its first model homes in July, which are expected to be completed this fall to coincide with the grand opening of the Westlake sales center.
ABOVE: An aerial photo of the Seminole Pratt Whitney Road widening project, now underway in the Westlake area.