Lox Council Reviews Plans For Upcoming Road Paving Projects

At a workshop on Tuesday, April 16, the Loxahatchee Groves Town Council heard an update on planned road improvement projects from Public Works Director Richard Gallant and Project Coordinator Jeff Kurtz.

The council gave their input into the design of certain roads and expressed preferences for which ones they would prioritize, but they agreed to leave the final decision on the construction order to Gallant from among the approved list of roads.

Gallant said he would prioritize roads where the necessary drainage work is complete, the roads have been prepped by his staff, and all the necessary easements are in place.

Kurtz noted that a bid has been awarded to Atlantic Southern Paving for work during fiscal year 2024 in the amount of $1.7 million to do up to 13 road segments. There is an additional $400,000 in the budget for road rock, bringing the current year’s roadway plan to approximately $2.1 million.

Kurtz said the focus of this year’s list is “subdivision roads,” where there are dedicated easements for road purposes associated with most of the areas under consideration for paving.

Previously, the focus had been on the main “letter” roads, and most of them have been completed, except for a handful of locations where a lack of easements has led to a holdup.

Several residents were on hand to advocate to get South A Road in the southwest corner of the town on the paving plan. It dropped off because the necessary easements were not in place.

Resident Vince Burkhardt said he has been working with his neighbors to get the easements in place. “We’ve been waiting 38 years for this, so we are certainly ready to see it happen,” Burkhardt said.

The council agreed that they would like to see South A Road paved but thought the most likely scenario would be to make it the first road up on the next set of approved roads.

“A Road is the first road on the plan for next fiscal year,” Gallant said. “The idea is to have it done by the end of the calendar year.”

Kurtz added that the roadway is already listed on the 2025 proposal. “We do hope to have a bid out and ready to award in the October timeframe,” he said.

Mayor Anita Kane supported moving forward with South A Road as soon as possible.

“People were promised that all Level 1 roads would be done by the end of the year, and that is why I am looking to take a vote on this now,” she said.

Town Manager Francine Ramaglia warned against making significant changes to the road list approved for Atlantic Southern, although the bid allows the town to direct the order of the roads and remove roads that are not ready for paving.

Councilman Robert Shorr said that the main letter roads are the only ones that don’t have subdivision easements, and that is why the A Road project has been held up.

“While they are the top road to pave due to traffic, they are the most difficult to pave because you need the easements,” Shorr said, predicting that A Road and Collecting Canal will get a lot more traffic once that area is paved.

Vice Mayor Marge Herzog noted that the size of the canal is another problem in that area.

Gallant then went over the planned road segments one by one, starting with 161st Terrace North, where the deed shows an easement, and the town is already doing drainage work in the area to make it ready for paving. A recreational trail will go on the side.

Prep work is also underway on Casey Road, which will be a 20-foot road with striping, along with a trail.

Kerry Lane connects to several other roads and may move down on the list.

East Citrus Drive runs along the north side of Loxahatchee Groves Park between E Road and F Road. The town is trying to work with Palm Beach County to get a larger easement from the park. That will be paved at 20 feet, striped and sloped to the north.

The area of 147th Avenue North has serious drainage issues that need to be fixed. It will be a 16-foot roadway that is crowned in the middle.

West C Road, similar to Kerry Lane, connects to several roads and may move down on the list. It will be 16 feet wide and sloped to the west.

24th Court, east of F Road and west of F Road, are both contingent on the completion of necessary culvert repairs. They are planned to be crowned and 16 feet wide.

Gruber Road has already been prepared for work and will be 18 feet, plus a trail. Drainage needed to be fixed in the area and several large Australian pines that blocked proper drainage were removed.

“We are trying to reestablish proper drainage on these side roads to our major canals, so the properties will actually start draining properly and not flood,” Gallant said.

This road will include a horse trail to satisfy equestrians in the area who are worried about a paved road.

West D Road paving will be located within the D Road Canal right of way. The paving is scheduled to be 16 feet wide, sloped to the west. There has been discussion about only doing part of this segment and maybe including Tangerine Drive in that area, which has more traffic.

Shorr said that the goal has not been to pave the dead-end finger roads, only the larger through roads. “If that has changed, we need to clarify our philosophy here,” he said.

While Herzog agreed that high-density, high-use roads should be prioritized, she said, “I think, if there are funds available, every resident in this town deserves a decent road.”

Global Trail in the northwest portion of the town will likely be toward the end of the paving cycle. Gallant suggested paving the finger roads there, since they are small, and it would eliminate a whole section of the town for grading.

The last two roads on the list, B Road North and North Road between B Road to C Road, are contingent sections, based on the adjacent property owner (the Miami Dolphins sod farm) helping get additional money for the work.

Kurtz said that these roads are part of the capital improvements plan but would be moved up from future years should the extra funding come through. The agreement is not set up as a quid pro quo, but the town would try to accommodate it if a broader agreement with the major landowner is reached, since the work is needed.

The town and the sod farm are discussing the resolution of a number of issues, including seeking the donation of a conservation easement to be a receiver site for a tree mitigation area.

Kane was very concerned that fiscal year 2024 is half over and the road work has not yet started. “Are we going to get to all of these in 2024 if we haven’t started yet?” she asked.

Gallant said that he will soon give notice to proceed on the first eight, which are nearly ready, but the others still have preparation work needed. By June, the goal is to have all the roads ready for the current round, and then immediately shift to preparing roads on the 2025 paving plan.

Once the road work is all prepared, those employees will move on to more drainage work.

“There is so much drainage work that needs to be done in this town that I can keep my nine employees busy for the next 10 years just doing drainage work alone,” Gallant said.

The proposed major drainage and canal improvements on the 2024 plan include: B Road Bridge Culvert ($125,700), 11th Terrace and D Road Bridge Culvert ($126,000), F Road and Collecting Canal Bridge Culverts ($436,300), 12th Place North Bridge Culvert ($136,700) and Canal Bank Collecting Canal ($198,000). All told, there are about $1.6 million in drainage projects in the current year’s budget.