Palmetto Park Road widening delayed


Palmetto Park Road is currently six lanes. Construction would make the road eight lanes. Photo by Christine Capozziello.

Allison Nielsen

Palmetto Park Road is currently six lanes. Construction would make the road eight lanes. Photo by Christine Capozziello.

Time is money, and for Boca, each second of commuting is worth $230,000.

City and county officials disagree over widening Palmetto Park Road.  County officials say it will cost $7 million and save drivers 30 seconds —  or $230,000 per second saved.

The widening would take place from I-95 to St. Andrews Blvd., and may begin next summer. It would widen the road from three lanes on each side, to four.

A Sept. 15 meeting between county and city officials brought no resolution over the project. City and county officials had opposing opinions on how the project will help Glades Road traffic.  Residents living around the project area also voiced their opposition to the project, although there was no public discussion allowed.

“With all construction and with FAU coming in and the amount of traffic that’s coming into [the Palmetto Park Area], it’s going to be a bottle neck, and one of the things that Palmetto Park will help is to alleviate some of the traffic that’s going onto Glades Road,” County Commissioner Burt Aaronson said at the meeting. Aaronson’s district covers western Boca Raton.

City representatives disagreed with the commissioner’s assertion. “The majority of FAU traffic comes from the south and travels east. That traffic pattern doesn’t flow west of I-95, so I don’t see where the FAU traffic is germane to this [discussion],” said Boca Councilwoman Susan Haynie.

County Engineer George Webb agreed with Aaronson. “One of the reasons we got the money from the Department of Transportation was to shift the traffic of Glades Road onto Palmetto Park. There will be a 5 percent shift overall,” Webb told the UP. “It will really add up over the years.”

Five percent of Glades’ average traffic between US 441 and US-1 is around 2,385 cars per day, according to county traffic counts.

Kristine Frazell-Smith, of the county’s road production division, told the UP that construction would begin in summer 2012. Prior to the Sept. 15 meeting, construction was scheduled to start in spring 2012. She also said construction is expected to take 300 days — about 10 months. That’s a cost of a little over $23,000 a day.

If county and city officials can’t agree, they will meet with a third party to reach an agreement. Webb said that if they don’t reach a resolution through third-party mediation, the city would be allowed to file suit.

The widening will take place between I-95 and St. Andrew’s Blvd. Military Trail is included in the planned construction, which is expected to begin in summer 2012. Photo courtesy of Google Maps.

Boca’s Deputy City Manager George Brown told the UP the city hasn’t made plans to file suit over the project, but the city will arrange meetings with residents living west of the project area to further discuss their concerns about the project.

Webb told the UP that legal action is the last resort for the county. “We want to get this thing moving. The contract ends at the end of 2012. Of course we want to talk in good faith. But at some point, we will have to make a decision.”

County and city officials will meet again within five weeks to discuss the project. No date has been set for the meeting.