SR 7 Stays, Roebuck Road Removed From Five-Year MPO Plan

The City of West Palm Beach has continued in its efforts to stop the State Road 7 extension to Northlake Blvd.

City representatives on the Palm Beach County Metropolitan Planning Organization made a motion at the MPO’s June 19 meeting to take the extension off the five-year Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). While the motion was seconded, it eventually failed to pass.

Although that motion failed, MPO members opposed to the Roebuck Road extension to SR 7 were successful in removing that project from the TIP, although it is slated to be a county-financed roadway, according to Royal Palm Beach Councilman Fred Pinto.

Pinto is RPB’s liaison to the MPO. He reported on the MPO’s actions at the Royal Palm Beach Village Council meeting, also held June 19. According to Pinto, West Palm Beach Commissioner Keith James was behind the attempt at last week’s MPO meeting to have the SR 7 extension removed from the TIP.

“At the meeting, there was a concerted effort by Commissioner James, who actually made the motion to have the State Road 7 project removed from the TIP,” Pinto said. “He had a very lengthy, prepared presentation as to why it shouldn’t go forward.”

James and other opponents made an impassioned plea over what they said were water issues as to why the SR 7 extension should not be built on its planned route plan, Pinto said, although Florida Department of Transportation officials have reported that the route, which runs along the western edge of the West Palm Beach Water Catchment Area, has already been approved and funded.

At the Indian Trail Improvement District meeting June 11, FDOT Project Engineer Beatriz Caicedo-Madison reported that plans for the SR 7 extension to Northlake appear to remain secure, and that opposition by West Palm Beach at the federal level on environmental grounds has been mitigated.

“Commissioner James put a motion on the table that was seconded to remove it, but the motion ultimately failed after all the presentations,” Pinto said. “So, the State Road 7 extension is still on the project list, but there remains a concerted effort by West Palm Beach to stop it.”

He added that SR 7 opponents were protesting the road because it would run along the western edge of the water catchment area, yet Okeechobee Blvd. in downtown West Palm Beach runs directly through the city’s reservoir.

“Why is that not an issue?” he asked, pointing out that Okeechobee Blvd. has protective measures put in place to prevent contamination, as would the planned SR 7 extension.

Village Manager Ray Liggins said he had a call in to County Engineer George Webb to see how the county is responding to the MPO’s removal of the Roebuck Road extension.

“The MPO is dealing with federal and state funding,” Liggins said. “If we know the county is funding Roebuck Road 100 percent anyway, that might not be an issue.”

Liggins said it was also his understanding that if Roebuck Road is not on the TIP, it cannot be used for future traffic modeling projections.

“If they don’t use it in their future modeling, it will have a significant impact on Okeechobee [Blvd.],” Liggins said. “That, along with taking out the overpasses, create quite a concern for Okeechobee Blvd., and maybe point out the problem we’ve been saying we have if these roads are not built.”

Liggins pointed out that when the county widened Okeechobee Blvd., the state financed the $26 million project, and it required a guarantee to protect Okeechobee Blvd.

“There are some commitments to the state to do that,” he said. “Maybe the removal of it, like they did this morning, will in all events show there are greater needs out there.”

Pinto asked about right-of-way easements for Roebuck Road, and Liggins said that when he talked to the county last year, it had full control of the right of way.

“That doesn’t mean the City of West Palm Beach can’t contest it, but the county has full control of the right of way,” Liggins said.

He added that as long as the Roebuck Road right of way exists, Webb’s reasoning has been that there is no immediate pressing need for the extension due to a slower economy. He did not want to jeopardize a rejected permit because of a lack of need.

“But now development is back and the economy has kicked back up,” Liggins said. “I felt as long as the county has control of the right of way and that need comes back, then we will be back in the position of being able to deal with it.”


  1. Safety is paramount for the Western Communities. An additional hurricane evacuation route is of prime importance.

    It’s time for the western municipalities to band together and form a new county. We need to control what happens out west. The size of PBC is too massive to be sensitive to concerns and safety of those who live out here.

    Let’s control our growth, our schools and what happens out here.

    And as for potential pollution of West Palm Beach water supply if SR7 was extended….the Clear Lake water supply in downtown WPB borders Okeechobee Blvd and Australian Avenue.

    As long as Lois Frankel is a congressional representative, she will hold up approvals. It’s political manipulation instead of safety that’s Frankel’s concern. Vote her out!

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