After months of complaints at public forums about downtown traffic and construction that threatens to intensify it, Mayor Jeri Muoio on Friday released this open letter to the public:
An Open Letter from Mayor Jeri Muoio
Whether you are a resident, visitor or business owner, you’ve no doubt appreciated that West Palm Beach is a vibrant, resilient and thriving City. From the new businesses opening each day to the new developments breaking ground; from the creation of the Flagler Financial District to Community Redevelopment Agency projects including the Shore to Core waterfront redesign, the Sunset Lounge revitalization in the Historic Northwest, and the Currie Park redesign; from the Brightline train station opening this summer to the full reopening of the Flagler Bridge by FDOT, this is a time of tremendous progress in the City. Many have begun to realize what most of us here have long known. This is a special place offering the best quality of life for those who live or do business here. The greatness of the City of West Palm Beach isn’t a secret anymore.
With these successes and recognition come “growing pains”. Many of you have voiced concerns about frustrating traffic in our community. Some of you have questioned what the City is doing about it or whether our roads can handle any additional development. We hear you, and we understand your concerns. The City is taking action on this. Balancing mobility with development and livability is more than just my vision. It is a top priority!
Historically, Government’s approach to congested traffic was simply to build more roads and lanes. Unfortunately, by the time these new roads and lanes are completed, new traffic has already overwhelmed them. Instead of spending money on this no-win cycle of endless road building, I believe the key to our City’s future is a more balanced approach to mobility.
More people than ever before are connecting to bikes, trains, and cars thanks to new mobility platforms. Some—like noted mobility planner Gabe Klein with CityFi– have described this as a revolution in urban transportation. West Palm Beach needs its own revolution in mobility. I envision a future where moving people, goods, trolleys, bikes, trains and vehicles is vastly more efficient, sustainable, safe and comfortable than what we are currently experiencing.
Soon, the City will connect a series of studies now underway to develop our future mobility system. You might already know that we have commissioned a mobility study. Conducted by Alta Planning + Design, this study will be the cornerstone upon which we build that revolutionary new system. The City is also developing a Bike Master Plan to interconnect bike routes throughout the City. We have the potential to be the most bikeable City in the nation. On Monday at the Mayor-Commission Work Session, we heard the recommendations from planners with the international design institute, Gehl Architects, who—after studying West Palm Beach for almost a year– reaffirmed our vision and made new recommendations that we are reviewing closely. This summer, we will share with you the results of the studies, solicit your input and develop a plan of action.
We are also taking immediate steps to relieve the congestion downtown by expanding trolley routes, increasing opportunities for biking and optimizing signal timing. West Palm Beach Police will also conduct enhanced traffic education and enforcement.
Developing our future mobility is a process of incremental changes. We need you to be a part of them. And while change isn’t always easy, change in how we approach mobility is what is needed to help us build a better West Palm Beach.
Jeri Muoio, Mayor