ITID Postpones Permit For 60th Street Connection To RPB Blvd.

The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors last week postponed the approval of a Palm Beach County permit to build the improved 60th Street North connection to Royal Palm Beach Blvd.

At the Sept. 10 meeting, the permit approval was pushed to November in order to get alternative ideas on improving the roadway.

The delay came after a 90-minute debate and public input both for and against the connection. Some residents argued that the connection was associated with the planned Minto West development.

Discussion was also interrupted by two recesses that resulted in supervisors’ seating arrangements being changed on the dais after arguments broke out.

Palm Beach County Engineer George Webb said construction is progressing on 60th east of Royal Palm Beach Blvd. and sought a permit to improve the connection and rebuild the bridge at 60th and Royal Palm Beach Blvd.

The connection would complete a county project to extend the State Road 7 extension to 60th Street, providing relief to residents on Orange Grove and Persimmon boulevards, who have borne the brunt of traffic since the extension opened in 2007.

The link will enable SR 7 pass-through traffic to make the connection on the three-lane 60th Street North link, rather than Persimmon and Orange Grove boulevards, which are intended ultimately to serve primarily local Acreage traffic.

The project includes replacing the Royal Palm Beach Blvd. bridge over the M Canal and reconstructing the intersection with 60th Street North to improve the line of vision for drivers entering Royal Palm Beach Blvd. from 60th Street. A traffic signal will also be installed at the intersection.

The connection permit had been deleted from ITID’s August meeting agenda.

“We’re here asking the board to reconsider the permit,” Webb said, explaining that he had met with ITID Engineer Jay Foy about possible options to transition from asphalt back down to shellrock west of Royal Palm Beach Blvd. on the existing 60th Street surface.

Webb said he had serious concerns about asphalt transitioning to shellrock because of liability and stability.

“I was asked to come, but I also wanted to have an understanding with you how we move forward with this project,” he said. “We can’t get this project going without the permit.”

Supervisor Michelle Damone said the question is about intersection safety, not about improving access to Minto West, as some residents believe. The current intersection has a blind spot for vehicles to check for oncoming traffic because of the high bridge that arcs over the canal culvert.

“Anybody who drives that road currently from west to east and enters that intersection, it is not safe,” Damone said. “To not do anything about it is ignoring public safety. That intersection was discussed long before Minto West.”

Damone also pointed out that there are flooding issues in the area that would be mitigated by completing the intersection and paving 60th Street farther west of Royal Palm Beach Blvd. “This is a necessity; this is not about politics,” she said.

Supervisor Gary Dunkley asked Webb what the holdup is on the completion of SR 7 to Northlake Blvd., and Webb said the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service was issuing a statement on sensitivity to the adjoining West Palm Beach Water Catchment Area.

“We’re hopeful that in the next 30 to 60 days, it will come out,” Webb said, explaining that he is working with the Florida Department of Transportation on a mitigation package.

Dunkley said the ITID board had approved the SR 7 extension under the presumption that the road would go through to Northlake Blvd. He did not welcome the added traffic on 60th Street and believed the road should be dead-ended at Royal Palm Beach Blvd. until SR 7 is complete.

Damone pointed out that the county had spent millions building the road so far, that the FDOT has funding approval to Northlake, and that the only opposition is from West Palm Beach. She added that the goal of the 60th Street connection is to ease the traffic on Orange Grove and Persimmon boulevards.

Supervisor Jennifer Hager said she had also discussed terminating the intersection at Royal Palm Beach Blvd. at a previous meeting.

“When that is completed, we all know what will come,” Hager said. “This is not about Minto. It’s about everyone, Minto and all of them. I don’t want that to become a four-lane highway.”

ITID President Carol Jacobs noted that she was on the board in 2007 when the first SR 7 connections opened. She opposed them at first, but came to see their advantages.

Jacobs pointed out that the 60th Street connection had been promised to the residents on Persimmon and Orange Grove boulevards.

However, she did not favor opening 60th completely west of Royal Palm Beach Blvd. “To go any further down 60th Street, you’re going to have to come back to us for a permit,” Jacobs said.

Webb said that until now, his experience had been that residents appreciated the paving of a shellrock road. “We thought we were going to be assisting in helping with drainage problems,” he said. “We felt we were doing the right thing.”

Webb said the county had continued to listen and continued to compromise. “We do want access west of the intersection,” he said, and asked for the opportunity to continue discussions with ITID staff and to inquire what the residents on the road want.

Dunkley made a motion that discussions continue and recommendations be brought back to the board’s November meeting. The motion carried unanimously.


ABOVE: The ITID Board of Supervisors.