In a 4-1 decision, the Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors granted the county a special drainage permit Wednesday to improve the intersection at 60th Street and Royal Palm Beach Blvd. after hearing input from several dozen residents both for and against the project.
The intersection improvement will complete the third connection of the State Road 7 extension to The Acreage, but some residents contend it is opening the floodgate to allow large developments to use Acreage roads for pass-through traffic.
ITID Engineer Jay Foy said the plan was submitted to the district about a year ago and different options had been discussed during that time.
The county proposes to improve the intersection by paving 60th Street 120 feet to the west and raising the road to improve visibility for drivers entering Royal Palm Beach Blvd. from 60th Street. A traffic signal will also be added.
Foy said the county had gone through several different iterations for the intersection before arriving at the final version before the board. He pointed out that the previous plan to pave the road west to 120th Avenue North, which raised strong objections from some residents and board members, was no longer in the plan.
The county also added an item ITID did not ask for, which was a guardrail between 60th Street and the M-1 Canal that continues to 120th Avenue to increase safety.
The county also changed the speed limit to 30 mph and prohibited truck traffic. “With all those changes, there is no reason I would recommend denial,” Foy said.
Supervisor Michelle Damone made a motion to approve the staff recommendation.
Supervisor Ralph Bair pointed out that the improvements will also enable the district to repair drainage in the area.
During public comment, resident John Rivera said accommodations for equestrians had not been made at the intersection.
“A lot of people ride that trail. They get to 60th and there’s no way to cross it,” Rivera said, asking for some provision for a walk-through that would not require riders to go on pavement.
Damone asked county staff present at the meeting if some accommodation could be made for riders.
Supervisor Jennifer Hager said she thought that paving would not be horse-friendly.
“This whole pavement thing, when there’s pavement coming in, it’s not going to work,” Hager said. “It’s not going to accommodate horses there.”
Damone amended her motion to try to accommodate horses.
Rose Rodriguez favored approving the permit. “We need that road now,” she said. “Don’t worry about future development. It’s long overdue.”
Michele Meredith said she did not understand why the horses were an issue when the road was needed for safety.
“We should be talking to Minto to get roads through their property to the high school,” Meredith said, explaining that students are at risk every day trying to get to school.
Jean Edwards spoke against the permit. “Basically, we’re building this for the county for more development,” she said.
Trish Watkins spoke for the permit. “We have had enough accidents there already,” she said. “We have a lot of road improvements needed that have been ignored for years.”
Former Supervisor Mike Erickson pointed out that the permit is for drainage, not the road, which the county owns the easement to.
“All they’ll do is change the permit and put the road in anyway,” Erickson said. “This is not a Minto issue, not for a drainage permit. It’s not even to connect to a district road.”
He pointed out that ITID has been trying to facilitate the 60th Street connection to SR 7 for seven years. “The more connections, the more you balance the traffic,” Erickson said.
But Alan Ballweg said that the Minto traffic plan wants to put 11 percent of traffic on 60th Street, which he said is 10,500 trips per day.
“That Minto traffic is greater than what Northlake [Blvd.] currently carries,” Ballweg said. “60th Street will be like a Northlake running through The Acreage.”
He added that the intersection would be safer if 60th street dead-ended at Royal Palm Beach Blvd.
Bob Sommer asked whether the plan requires giving up an easement, and Foy said the county has purchased 80 feet of easement.
Jennifer Davis said she looked at the intersection as a safety issue. “I ride over that crazy bridge every day,” Davis said. “Please make it safer.”
George Kenny, who lives on Royal Palm Beach Blvd. near the intersection, urged the board to issue the permit.
“I’m sick and tired of this group of people not compromising with the county,” Kenny said. “When somebody winds up dead, I hope you sleep well. Get off your horses and get this done.”
ITID President Carol Jacobs called the question, which carried 4-1 with Hager opposed.