Indian Trail Improvement District supervisors approved a study of Persimmon Blvd. last week to reduce cut-through traffic on secondary roads in nearby neighborhoods. The board also discussed features that could be added to ITID’s traffic-calming plan.
At the board’s Jan. 27 meeting, Joe Capra of Captec Engineering reviewed some of the traffic-calming options he had discussed with the supervisors before, as well as some new traffic information based on planned developments west of The Acreage, with a specific focus on how they would affect Persimmon Blvd., which is an ITID road.
“You might want to be at least prepared for some of these things, and maybe some of the reasons for the more concrete calming solutions, which I think is what we really want to talk about,” Capra said. “Pretty much what we’re talking about is Persimmon.”
He said that Captec looked at the Westlake (Minto West), GL Homes and Avenir projects, and the roads that their developers say they will impact, especially Persimmon, which he noted will be impacted by all three developments.
“They show trips based on their traffic reports,” Capra said, explaining that there were different traffic count projections between 140th Avenue and Avocado, Avocado and Coconut, and Coconut and Royal Palm Beach Blvd.
“If you add all the trips that are there today, plus all the trips from these proposed developments, over the next 20 years, you’re going to see a 177 percent increase in traffic on that road,” he said. “That’s basically what they’re telling you. We’ve known there’s going to be an increase in traffic.”
Capra said that he had spoken with county staff about working together to minimize the impacts on ITID roads.
“They are willing to talk to us,” he said. “We point this information out to them, but we also say, ‘Where’s the money going to come from?’ That’s the sticking point because, as all of you know, they are out of money. As they will tell you, they are looking at a sales tax for traffic improvements.”
Capra showed an illustration that reflected accidents that have occurred, which have doubled at some of the intersections in the past year, compared with the previous five years.
“There’s a correlation between traffic and safety; and when you look at areas where we have traffic calming, we have seen fewer accidents, so it’s pretty obvious that traffic calming does work out here, but we’re not gaining on this problem with accidents,” he said. “We really need to get something done out here if we want to gain on them.”
Capra pointed out that there are school crossings on Persimmon, which is a 40-mph roadway, as well as several four-way stops.
He said that many ITID roads appear to be used as cut-throughs, and that as the new developments come online, there will be more and more accidents.
Original traffic plans for Persimmon had medians at some of the secondary roads to prevent cars from making turns that would allow drivers to use other streets for cut-throughs.
“We don’t like to think of that as traffic calming,” he said. “It does help slow down traffic, and it does help slow down the speeders, but they are typically not used for traffic calming.”
Using that concept is one possibility.
“This is just an option,” he said. “There’s several in the original plan that you can utilize to get rid of the cut-through traffic.”
Capra added that the medians cost about $150,000 each.
“These things can accumulate, so I just want you to know what kind of numbers you are looking at,” he said.
Supervisor Ralph Bair asked for clarification on where the money would be coming from.
“These things are going to be paid for by the county, right?” Bair asked. “I don’t want to be paying for it.”
Capra addressed Bair’s question, explaining the difficulties involved.
“The problem we have is to convince them to build some of these things,” he said. “These are your roads right now, and any improvement, we need money to do it if they’re not going to do it.”
Capra also pointed out that improvements to 60th Street will be done by the county because it is a county road.
There are also less expensive options. He noted that traffic calming can sometimes be done simply with striping.
“People are driving a little faster and sometimes that might not work here, but these are used in rural communities,” Capra said.
Roundabouts, such as those at the western ends of Persimmon and Orange Grove boulevards, and other surface treatments such as speed bumps or tables, are other viable considerations, he said.
Supervisor Michelle Damone asked why the board was considering options, explaining that she thought a test project at 140th Avenue and Hamlin Blvd. using a speed table and island was going to be the model used throughout The Acreage.
“What this board decided was to stop piecemealing it,” she said. “We did that traffic study, and we were going to invest in our community long-term knowing that all this construction was coming. We selected, as a board, that one on 140th and Hamlin. It was working, so why are we moving away from that?”
Capra said that the medians he showed for Persimmon were to prevent cut-through traffic, not calm traffic.
Damone stressed that she wanted the traffic calming to be consistent throughout the community.
“We will never solve our traffic problems, we will only contribute to them, if it’s all this hodgepodge throughout the community,” Damone said. “I don’t care what traffic calming we use; just be uniform.”
Capra agreed that they need to be uniform, but noted that he was trying to address another issue with the medians.
“I don’t have any direction from the board at this point,” he said. “The idea was to see what the board wants.”
Damone also pointed out that the Persimmon project would be in addition to the traffic-calming plan, which cost $60,000 to do and has a $750,000 budget committed by the board.
“It seems to me that we are adding to the traffic plan, which I have no problem with, as long as we remain consistent and committed to what we’ve already spent,” she said.
ITID President Carol Jacobs said that she had asked for the discussion about Persimmon because she wanted to get a plan in place as quickly as possible, before the developers start their projects.
Supervisor Gary Dunkley said that the other options are worth consideration.
“I appreciate Michele’s concerns, but one of the reasons I moved out here is because we are not cookie-cutter,” Dunkley said. “I’m glad you’re showing us alternatives. Persimmon is going to be a different animal than the rest of the roads.”
Damone made a motion to allow Captec to go ahead with a plan for Persimmon cut-through control and add it to the traffic-control plan, which carried 5-0.
Damone also made a motion to direct staff to include cost estimates for the components of the plan, in preparation for budget discussions, which also carried 5-0.
ABOVE: The Indian Trail Improvement District Board of Supervisors.