For years, residents of Boca’s barrier island have brought East Palmetto Park Road safety concerns to the attention of decision makers on city council. They have also presented to, two mayors, two county commissioners and now two city managers – will East Palmetto Park Road ever see safety and aesthetic issues addressed?
The answer is Yes, and the county has made it clear they are fully on board with the improvements.
Our new county commissioner, Marci Woodward, recently made a personal appearance at the July 24th city council workshop to let it be known that the county is taking residents concerns seriously.
As detailed in the article “We have a new E. Palmetto Park Rd. Yeah. No“, installation of sidewalk bump-outs around the intrusive FPL poles on the south portion of the road have already been completed by the County. Repainting the Palmetto Park Bridge is also on their agenda. Additionally, Commissioner Woodward requested her County Engineer to determine the best possible location for a crosswalk on East Palmetto Park Road.
It was determined that mid-block would match the distance of the first crosswalk west of the bridge on Palmetto. The east road crosswalk would be in front of the existing 7-Eleven store, so the placement would be perfect for pedestrians – plus no consultant required.
Commissioner Woodward also suggested eliminating curbside parking and unifying East Palmetto with the downtown portion continuing the charming elements all the way to A1A. The cost to enhance East Palmetto would be minimal compared to the return on investment.
Since the completion of East Palmetto is superficial “finishing touches” on the sides of the roadway, known successful Vision Zero compliant solutions such as continuous sidewalks should be used to prevent pedestrian, cyclist and motorist crashes. The low hanging fruit are:
- Decorative lighting
- Wayfinding signs for Golf, Gumbo Limbo, and beach parking
- Continuous sidewalks from the bridge to A1A
- Landscaped bump-outs for clear driver line of sight at NE Wavecrest and NE Olive Way
Not surprisingly, Mayor Singer asked the commissioner about the potential source of funding for these enhancements. Besides TPA grant monies, one suggestion might be to ‘earmark’ a few months worth of tax dollars paid by Boca Beachside residents to be funneled into the project.
Commissioner Woodward is a resident of Boca Raton, she knows firsthand the perils of biking and jogging along east Palmetto to access A1A.
East of the bridge the road narrows to seventy feet while west of the bridge Palmetto measures eighty feet wide. Opening curbside car doors combined with speeding drivers can be a lethal for pedestrians attempting to cross the road or ride their bikes.
Eliminating curbside parking would not impact commercial businesses either since they have customer parking in the rear of their buildings. The impact would be to beach goers who do not want to pay the beach parking fees and cyclists who park their cars along E. Palmetto while they enjoy a morning ride down A1A.
A quick review of parking solutions sent to City Hall has confirmed that an offer was made to the city in 2016 by owners of some vacant land on the south side of the road. The property owners offered a long-term lease on the land and even suggested it be used for additional parking. However, the City Manager and Council at the time did not take advantage of the proposal. It remains an excellent option worth pursuing.
An additional win-win, might be a program for members of the Boca Bike Club. Members, who are not residents of the City, could purchase special cyclists stickers for Red Reef Park. The funds garnered from the purchase of cyclist stickers could cover any expenses incurred due to the opening of a section of that beach lot earlier than 8:00 AM.
The ball is now in the City’s court … let us see what they serve up to its residents.