FDOT Reviews Latest Plans For Southern Blvd.

Florida Department of Transportation consultants reviewed the latest plans for Southern Blvd. improvements from Crestwood Blvd. to Palm Beach Aggregates with members of the Loxahatchee Groves Landowners’ Association on Thursday, Feb. 27.

Patrick C. Leung with Stantec Consulting said the county had recently requested that FDOT add another mile of improvements on the west end of the project.

“We just found out about it,” Leung said. “At this point it’s at its initial stage, but we know that we need to do more design work to accommodate one mile west of Lion Country Safari.”

A member of the audience said the extension was most likely to accommodate the Highland Dunes project planned near Palm Beach Aggregates.

Leung agreed. “There is a big development coming in,” he said. “We are trying to find more information about it.”

The entire project will extend through Loxahatchee Groves, Wellington and Royal Palm Beach.

The project has been making its way through the approval process for about five years and is now entering the design phase, which should be finished by the summer of 2016. Construction will probably start between 2016 and 2018, or whenever financing becomes available.

Leung said no right-of-way acquisition will be required for the widening but that off-site acquisition will be required for stormwater retention ponds.

Two more lanes are planned for Southern Blvd. from Lion Country Safari Road to Palms West Parkway. That stretch is currently a four-lane divided highway.

Lanes will be added on the median so as not to disturb swales on the outside of the road and to maximize water retention, Leung said. FDOT will also build a 12-foot multi-use path along the north side, which he said is now typical roadway construction for the state. “Basically, this multi-use path is going to be from end to end on the project,” he said.

From B Road to Palms West Parkway, FDOT will have to add a lane on the north side because the median is narrower there.

Leung said minor improvements are planned for Palms West Parkway to Forest Hill Blvd./Crestwood Blvd., which is currently six lanes with curb and gutter and sidewalks. “We’re not going to do too much on this portion, just some milling and resurfacing,” he said.

The right turn lane at Palms West Parkway westbound will be converted to a through lane, and a new right-turn lane will be provided.

At the Seminole Pratt Whitney Road intersection, which has dual left-turn lanes eastbound to northbound, another left-turn lane will be added to offset the loss of one left-turn lane that will be converted to the additional eastbound lane.

In the westbound direction, the existing U-turn lane is being offset from the opposing dual left-turn lanes to provide better visibility. Bus bays are proposed for the two existing bus stops. Crosswalk markings are also planned.

At the A Road intersection, an eastbound left-turn lane will be provided to accommodate left turns and U-turns.

At the B Road and F Road intersections, the eastbound left-turn lanes off of Southern Blvd. will be offset from the opposing left-turn lanes to provide better visibility. In coordination with Palm Tran, two potential bus stops were evaluated for Palm Tran Route 40 at both intersections. High-emphasis crosswalk markings are also proposed.

A recorded presentation pointed out that FDOT rules mandate a minimum distance for driveway connections, median openings and traffic signals on highways such as Southern Blvd (State Road 80); full median openings can be spaced every 2,640 feet, while directional median openings can be spaced every 1,320 feet.

As part of the study, the roadway was reviewed for compliance with the spacing criteria, and two locations do not currently meet the required spacing. The first is located at 210th Terrace and the second is between C Road and D Road. To improve access and safety along the corridor, median modifications are proposed at those two locations.

The existing full median opening at the entrance to Palms West Plaza is only 600 feet away from the full median opening at D Road, much less than the 2,640 feet required. The existing full median opening at Palms West Plaza will be converted to an eastbound median directional opening, and a new westbound directional median opening is proposed just west of the plaza opening. Eastbound vehicles would be able to enter the plaza through the converted median opening. Vehicles leaving the plaza to go east would have to turn right and go west to a new U-turn opening.

Resident Ken Johnson asked about installing a traffic light at D Road, but Leung said a study was conducted and the traffic count was far below warranting a traffic light there.