The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors approved a resolution on Wednesday approving a grant for the Florida Department of Transportation do a traffic calming design and possible construction for 140th Avenue North and Temple Blvd.
The design anticipates future development around The Acreage, and 140th Avenue North has come under scrutiny by ITID after the county mandated improvements on the road in conjunction with improvements at nearby Acreage Community Park.
The park improvements have seen delays for a number of reasons, including getting permits from the county. The area is also subject to likely future traffic generated by the Westlake and GL Homes developments.
Newly elected ITID President Betty Argue said she was concerned that state standards might be greater, and therefore more costly, than the district’s.
“I think it’s great that other money is coming in, but this resolution is for FDOT to design the traffic calming,” Argue said. “We seem to be having excessive attention being spent on 140th, and I understand why, but in March, the board approved a temporary pilot project for traffic calming that still hasn’t happened yet. Then we’ve got this grant here. My biggest concern is that it’s for FDOT to design traffic calming for these two particular roads. If FDOT is designing it, it’s to state and county standards, which is certainly a lot more than what we as Indian Trail would be doing for traffic calming.”
Argue said one of the reasons that ITID approved that pilot project was that if it was efficient, then it would be a cheaper option for traffic calming throughout the district.
“Getting this money, while it seems great, by the time we’re said and done, we’re going to end up that the cost of actually doing what they’re doing is three times what we would be doing, so are we really ahead if we actually wind up spending double the amount of money after we receive the money for the grant?” she asked.
ITID Engineer Jay Foy said traffic calming has been planned by the district in recent years, including a raised intersection at Temple and 140th, and two mid-block islands along 40th Street and three along Hall Blvd., as well as speed tables on Temple.
“This resolution says FDOT would design and construct it, but you don’t have to construct it,” Foy said. “Yes, it does do the traffic calming per state standard, so it wouldn’t prohibit any future action if someone else were to have the road.”
Foy reiterated that the work is with grant money, explaining that two years ago the board was very focused on getting grants for projects.
Supervisor Carol Jacobs asked if the project was due to numerous accidents in that area, and Foy said it was to address accidents and other problems nearby.
“We have traffic calming, but not traffic control,” Foy said. “We can’t set speed limits and stop signs and things like that, so this is the limit of our ability.”
Acting District Manager Rob Robinson said the raised speed table planned at 140th and Temple, as well as a traffic circle, were a semi-permanent design as part of the pilot project, and could be removed if they prove not effective.
“This would address more permanent needs if, in fact, the pilot project was [not] to be effective at slowing traffic down at these intersections,” Robinson said. “So, while the pilot project has temporary speed bumps, this would address a more permanent resolution, if it is warranted once we do the installation in January,”
Argue asked if they proceed with the grant and still don’t have the district project off the ground, at what point do they go with the grant project if the district project is not effective.
Foy said the resolution would authorize FDOT to do the design, and in the future, do the construction if the funds are allocated, which could be five years away.
“To get this grant, you have to be certified,” he said. “We’re not certified. FDOT is. The county is, but they haven’t been required to do these things because there is responsibility with your design.”
Foy said the grant does not fund the entire project, and more money would be needed if the FDOT design becomes necessary.
“If you want this money, there is no such thing as free money,” he said. “This is not a commitment, but if you approve it in the future, and if we didn’t get more funds, this doesn’t fund the entire project. This resolution says it’s OK with us if you go ahead and design it at no cost. We’re not committing to any funds to build it, but it does say you would levy authority to construct it if we come up with the money to do it.”
ITID Attorney Frank Palin said the project would be put somewhere on the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s five-year plan, as well as the county’s, and explained that the state has discretionary funds it allocates to municipalities and other local governments for design projects such as 140th and Temple.
“If the district doesn’t go forward with this, these funds will go to some other entity,” Palin said. “At the moment, this is just planning.”
Supervisor Ralph Bair said it would be interesting to see what FDOT has in mind.
Robinson said he felt the district should pursue the grant in light of future development in the area.
“If we get out in front of this now, it shows us as being proactive to the effects of traffic, especially with the widening of Northlake and Seminole Pratt,” he said. “The communities that are going to be going down to the south and north of us here, especially when construction starts on Northlake… were going to see Temple and Key Lime as cut throughs to go around the intersection of Northlake and Seminole Pratt. It would be good to get on the books showing that we are going to look at this, and also more projects in the future, because traffic is going to be slower around us here in the next decade.”
Supervisor Jennifer Hager made a motion to approve the resolution, which carried 4-0 with Supervisor Gary Dunkley absent.