5-month shutdown coming for Roebuck Road

Almost the entire length of Roebuck Road, from Military Trail nearly to Jog Road, will close for five months, starting Saturday, June 3, to allow workers to re-line the pipeline that carries all of the city’s sewage to its water treatment plant.

The closing was the most efficient way to get the work done, said Assistant City Administrator Scott Kelly. Keeping the road open would have cost more than $100 million because of the extra work involved, he said.

The project will be coordinated with one by the county, to widen Roebuck.

This is phase 2 of a project that started with relining the main from Military Trail eastward. That phase cost about $7 million, and the second phase should cost $7.1 million, Kelly said. The total is expected to be well under the initial estimate of $16 million for the entire project, he said.

The project involves constructing a bypass line so that workers can clean the inside of the old main, then line it with Fiberglas. Accessing the main to insert and secure the lining will require digging several pits down the middle of Roebuck Road.

The project was timed to take place during the off season but school bus routes to Seminole Elementary on Willow Pond Road and possibly Jeaga Middle, on Jog Road, will have to be altered, Kelly said.

Eastbound and Westbound through traffic on Roebuck Road will be detoured to Okeechobee Boulevard.

 

 

Haverhill Road north of Gun Club Road to close for 9 weeks

Haverhill Road between Gun Club Road and Southern Boulevard will close for nine weeks for replacement of sanitary sewer lines, starting Saturday at 8 a.m.

The road is scheduled to reopen Aug. 11.

Southbound traffic will detour at Southern Boulevard (SR 80/US 98) east to Military Trail, south to Gun Club Road, then west to Haverhill Road.

Northbound traffic will detour at Gun Club Road east to Military Trail, north to Southern, then west to Haverhill.

On Gun Club Road, travel will be reduced to a single lane eastbound and westbound.

Local residential traffic between Cheryl Lane and Canal Road will have access on Haverhill Road to and from Southern Boulevard.

 

Why didn’t I invent this?

Seen on Miami International Airport’s Skytrain: a triple hand-hold bar, so more people can hold on without crowding or awkwardly overlapping hands.

If they’d thought to put in seats, they wouldn’t need the bar, but in oft-crowded confines like airports, it makes perfect sense.

Congrats to whomever came up with this why-didn’t-I-think-of-that idea.

PalmTran? Tri-Rail? Trolley transporters? What say you?

 

 

‘Point A to Point B’ traffic forum set for Monday

(Thomas Cordy / The Palm Beach Post)

West Palm Beach City Commissioner Shanon Materio, Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard and Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio are hosting “Getting from Point A to Point B,” a public forum Monday, May 22, to address growing public concerns about traffic.

The event starts 8:30 a.m. at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Blvd. Doors open at 7:30 a.m. Attendees are encouraged to preregister.

The forum seeks to identify factors contributing to traffic in West Palm and the town with a collaborative, solution-based approach. The interactive discussions will include pedestrian safety, factors contributing to the growing traffic congestion and future development. The Florida Department of Transportation will join the workshop, as will the county’s engineer.

Many agencies are involved in West Palm’s traffic issue, from the state, which controls Okeechobee Boulevard, to the city which controls the lights, and roads north and south, the town, which needs access through the bridges, to the Coast Guard, which controls bridge openings, Materio said Wednesday. Then there are the trains, whose crossings affect traffic many times a day — and more, when Brightline service begins.

 

“We’re showing we can work in a collaborative effort and we’re encouraging community to be active participants, she said.

West Palm has hired a consult to undertake a mobility study of Okeechobee Boulevard and downtown, also to seek solutions in light of continuing development. The results of that study are due out later this year.

“The mobility study is just part of this and that’s just one piece,” Materio added. “There’s no one silver bullet.”

 

“As a community, we have seen an increase in traffic and congestion that desperately needs to be addressed,” Coniglio said. “Getting from Point A to Point B is about identifying and addressing the issues that are clearly impacting all of the surrounding communities as well as finding long-term solutions.”

“Traffic issues have been a rising problem along the Okeechobee corridor,” Bernard said. “The city can’t function during rush hour when a bridge goes up or a train goes by. There has been a growing voice from the public asking for local officials to take action to improve the traffic situation in West Palm Beach and Palm Beach. The county is proud to participate in what we hope will be a fruitful discussion resulting in realistic solutions to the complex traffic problems that plague our community.”

The public is encouraged to preregister for Monday’s event by visiting http://www.PBCtraffic.com. Attendees can also submit questions and concerns to be addressed during the workshop.

Hydrant replacement blow-out led to major main break near Outlets mall

City workers repair damage from water main break Thursday, at Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard, in view of I-95. (Tony Doris /The Palm Beach Post)

A routine effort to swap out a non-functioning fire hydrant Thursday led to a major water main break on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard that forced the closings of Palm Beach Outlet’s food court, Whole Food Markets and several restaurants.

Earlier reports that the break was caused by a truck hitting a tree were incorrect, Assistant City Administrator Scott Kelly said Friday.

City water workers conducting a scheduled check of the hydrant near the Best Buy electronics store found it wasn’t working. When they went to shut a valve at 1:15 p.m. to isolate the hydrant from the 16-inch-wide main and replace it, the isolation valve broke, sending water under high pressure shooting out of the break.

The city called in four crews, backhoes and other equipment to tame the break. Service was restored at 4:15 p.m., Kelly said.

Traffic on Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard was not affected and the malls shops did not close. The food court did. Whole Foods remained closed for the rest of the day.

During repairs, a city truck was used to remove a palm tree near the site for workers’ safety, as water was undermining the roots. But contrary to earlier reports, the break was not caused by a truck hitting a tree, Kelly said.

Check The Palm Beach Post later for more details of the incident.

 

Truck hits tree, breaks main, forcing closure of mall food court

An artist’s rendering of the pedestrian promenade shows where ‘sails’ will provide some coverage from sun and rain at the new Palm Beach Outlets.

Palm Beach Outlets’ food court and restaurants on the mall property closed Thursday afternoon, after a truck accident across the street.

Officials said a truck hit a tree, breaking the city’s main water line, which serves the outlet mall.

 

Whole Foods Market was among the businesses that closed because of the water main break, according to the upscale grocer’s website.

The city said it was doing its best to fix the issue and get water running as soon as possible.

All of the stores at the mall remained open.

More downtown detours: Clematis to close at train tracks for rail work

A freight train passes the All Aboard Florida’s Brightline station, which is under construction in downtown West Palm Beach. The passenger rail service will connect West Palm Beach with Miami and Orlando. (Allen Eyestone / The Palm Beach Post)

Downtown traffic will be messed up this week, with roads around the waterfront already blocked off for SunFest preparations. So what’s one more logjam?

All Aboard Florida this morning announced it will close another section of Clematis Street, where its tracks cross, just west of the Mandel Public Library, just of O’Shea’s Irish Pub and Subculture Coffee.

The closing is scheduled for Tuesday, May 2, from 7 a.m. through 6 p.m.

 

For more information on future road closures and a map of traffic detours in the area, visit http://allaboardflorida.com/construction/grade-crossings.

State challenges commuters to leave car home this month

The Florida Department of Transportation wants commuters to leave cars home this month and try alternative modes of transportation — trains, buses, bikes, whatever moves you.

The South Florida Commuter Challenge 2017 runs throughout May, an effort to get commuters to share rides and ease traffic congestion, improve air quality and promotes better health for all.

To participate in the Challenge, download the free RideFlag mobile app from the App Store or Google Play and log your alternative mode trips from May 1 to May 31.

For information, visit www.sflcommutes.com

Letter from the mayor on traffic concerns: We’re on it

Muoio (City of WPB)

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.

Sincerely,

Jeri Muoio, Mayor

What did the consultants say about your neighborhood?

West Palm Beach’s urban planning consultants, Gehl Studio, this week released recommendations on how to bring the downtown and neighborhood scenes to life. For downtown, the challenge the consultants saw was that, the second you step off Clematis Street, or away from CityPlace, walkways are uninviting and that breaks up the connectivity that makes it fun to go from one place to another.

Not enough shade trees, street lighting or bicycling facilities; too many obstructions like utility posts blocking the sidewalks. Big roadways like Okeechobee Boulevard and Tamarind Avenue act as barriers. Flagler Drive blocks the waterfront.

The urban planners came up with proposals for pilot projects for six areas, from just south to just north of downtown. The city commission will be considering these recommendations in the weeks to come. We plan a full story about this for this weekend, but for now, here’s a neighborhood-by-neighborhood summary of the challenges and “potential moves” for the six areas, culled from the Gehl presentation:

  1. Complete Clematis. Challenges: Clematis’ eastern and western edges could use some love. On the west, crossing Tamarind Avenue from the Tri-Rail station is difficult, and the end of Clematis has little shade or pedestrian interest. On the east, everyone loves the waterfront but it’s empty most of the time, there’s no way to  interact with the water, no shade and few everyday activities. Recommendations: Create an artistic gateway tot he city at the TriRail Station; make Tamarind easier for pedestrians by adding a signal and pedestrian islands; Add shading to make walk up Clematis from the station more comfortable; run bike lanes from Tri-Rail to Rosemary Avenue; String lighting from Tri-Rail to the waterfront; add movable seating to the Flagler Drive green, so people can follow the shade; make the FEC rail and Quadrille Boulevard intersection feel safe and comfortable; widen the waterfront park by taking under-used space from Flagler Drive and install docks that step down to the water. Include eye-catching lighting to draw people to the waterfront.
  2. Historic Northwest. Challenges: Need to stitch this neighborhood and downtown back together. Banyan Boulevard acts as a barrier, too many dark sidewalks, sidewalk obstructions, lack of shade and few things to do. Getting downtown on foot is tough. Rosemary Avenue, once commercial heart of Historic NW, has fallen into vacancy and disrepair. Need to leverage city’s investment in the Sunset Lounge, the historic jazz bar, and set stage to renew Rosemary as a ‘Main Street.’ Recommendations: Create a gateway to the neighborhood at Banyan and Rosemary, with art and bright lighting and redesign intersection to make it safer and more appealing. Paint vacant buildings and sidewalk obstructions bright colors to create an eye-catching pathway on Rosemary. Install artistic lighting along Rosemary leading from Clematis to the Sunset Lounge. Install traffic calming and pedestrian and cyclist improvements on Rosemary. Create a ‘Vacancy Lab’ to test different uses for vacant lots such as sports fields, community garden, food truck pop-ups, plant nursery, tree grove. Consider adding trolley stop. Improve connection across the tracks and to the water along 3rd Street.
  3. 15th Street: Safety and comfort from school to pools. Challenges: 15th crosses both railroads, connecting schools with Pleasant City, Gaines Park and the waterfront. Need to make 15th “a truly great pedestrian and bike street that is safe and enjoyable for school children and all WPBers.” Recommendations: Promote walking and biking to school with mural-painting and other events and traffic school for kids. Add shade, lighting, continuous bike lanes, improve intersections, add ‘rest stops’ with seating, shade, ‘playful interventions,’ bike pumps and the like.
  4. Pleasant City: Challenges: It’s a food desert, with few outlets for affordable food, whether in stores or restaurants. Northwood Village has great restaurants but they’re too expensive for many neighbors. Getting to the water from Northwood and Pleasant City is challenging because it feels far. Recommendations: Give Pleasant city residents something to do in Blum Park while helping address shortage of affordable food in the neighborhood. Connect the neighborhood to the water and Currie Park while creating a new destination: the Sunset Pools. Sunset Pools would be a ‘mobile harbor bath in the Intracoastal Waterway that allows people to get into the water and can be moved to serve different neighborhoods. Add activities to Blum Park by building barbecue pits, a weekly or biweekly food truck program with local entrepreneurs, add picnic tables and shade. Build on the community garden on Spruce and connect to a kitchen. Create a community/commercial kitchen in a vacant building or repurposed shipping container to supply the food truck program and provide job training. Install pedestrian and bike improvements on Spruce, leading from Northwood to Merry Place. Add a trolley stop at Dixie Highway and Currie Park.
  5. Tamarind Avenue: Challenges: It’s a commercial street plagued by vacancies, illicit activities, a tough stigma, lack of lighting and shade. Locals say bus stops are uncomfortable, and though there are hang-out spots near corner stores, there is nowhere to sit and nothing to do. Recommendations:  Bring amenities to the Coleman Park neighborhood along Tamarind, where no one should ever be more than two minutes from comfort, services or neighborhood shops. Create clusters of activity around existing, organic hang-out areas at corner stores and bus stops and put eyes on the street by adding services the neighborhood needs. Add shade, lighting, seating. Add ‘pop-ups’ to energize Tamarind, such as a mobile library, WiFi stations, bike repair shop, computer access points, outdoor exercise equipment, street games. Make cycling between 15th and 23rd streets more comfortable by clearly marking that this is “a neighborhood green street/commercial main street.”
  6. Howard Park: Challenges: The under-used northern end of the park is potentially a great amenity for the southern part of downtown, but with Okeechobee Boulevard in the middle, it’s hard to navigate between the park and downtown.  Recommendations: Improve Okeechobee crossings by tailoring crossing times to pedestrians, widening ends of medians to make the crossings shorter. Add shade, lighting and other pedestrian improvements between CityPlace and Howard Park. Add a SkyBike bicycle rental station. Create “a playful connection” through the park, with features like Los Trompos, the big “tops” formerly located on the waterfront. Try putting a trolley stop at the park, and if there’s demand, a trolley stop at the Art Walk in the Warehouse District.