The Florida Department of Transportation held two virtual workshops on Thursday, Jan. 28 about new design plans for the 8-mile State Road 7 extension from Okeechobee Blvd. to Northlake Blvd. that include steel-beam bridges with no piling supports and rerouted stormwater, sound barriers and four signalized intersections.
FDOT consultant Ross Shillingford said the project will help accommodate increasing growth and travel demands and help with emergency response and evacuation.
The proposed route skirts the Pond Cypress Natural Area and the West Palm Beach Water Catchment Area to the east and Royal Palm Beach, Porto Sol, The Acreage and the Ibis Golf & Country Club on the west.
“This project will provide a total of four lanes of traffic with two lanes in each direction, divided by a median,” Shillingford said.
Recent changes to the project include a reduced median north of 60th Street North from 22 feet to 15.5 feet. Sidewalks and on-street bike lanes have been replaced with a shared-use path north of 60th Street. Direct stormwater outfalls to the Ibis lake system have been eliminated, and retaining walls have been added to reduce the project footprint and further minimize wetland impacts. The Ibis spillway bridge has been redesigned to eliminate pilings in the water, and an open swale south of the M Canal has been eliminated to reduce the footprint, Shillingford said.
The section from Okeechobee Blvd. to Madrid Street will have 6-foot bike lanes in each direction with concrete sidewalks with a 42-foot median with curb and gutter in the median and outsides.
The east-to-west section south of the M Canal from 60th Street North to the M Canal bridge will include a 12-foot shared use path on the south side.
“These differences result from refinements of our earlier design to reduce the project footprint and further minimize environmental impacts,” Shillingford said.
Similar refinements were made to the section north of the Ibis spillway bridge to the Ibis entrance, adding a dry retention swale, a wet conveyance channel and sheet pile on the east side, as well as wetland enhancements and landscaping east of the sheet pile wall. The section from the Ibis entrance to Northlake Blvd. will have a 6-foot sidewalk on the west side.
The M Canal and Ibis spillway bridges will both feature steel beams with no pilings in the water to enhance wildlife connectivity.
“The drainage system north of the M Canal consists of a dry retention swale and a wet conveyance channel along the east side of the roadway,” Shillingford said, adding that outfall will be to the Palm Beach County-owned Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area north of Northlake Blvd.
Traffic signals and lighting are proposed at the intersections of Porto Sol, Orange Grove and Persimmon boulevards. The roundabout at 60th Street North will be expanded to four lanes with landscaping, and a new roundabout is proposed at the Ibis intersection.
A number of local officials attended the workshops. Attendees included Royal Palm Beach Councilman Jeff Hmara, Palm Beach County commissioners Maria Marino and Gregg Weiss, Indian Trail Improvement Supervisor Joni Martin, ITID President Betty Argue and Wellington Councilman Michael Napoleone.
The project web site at www.sr7extension.com has been updated with the videos from the virtual workshops. You can access the videos on the web site or by using the following links: https://youtu.be/H0kFXkC-d7I (1 p.m. workshop) and https://youtu.be/WnjT6hmGESw (5:30 p.m. workshop).