Palm Beach Gardens officials hearing pitches for the proposed I-95 interchange at Central Boulevard had some advice for the Florida Department of Transportation engineers designing it.
Consider widening the ramps on PGA Boulevard to I-95, Mayor Marcie Tinsley suggested. Listen to the residents who will be affected by it, Councilman David Levy said.
Jose A. Muñoz, a Florida Department of Transportation consultant and co-owner of BCC Engineering, said the department is looking at some changes to PGA Boulevard in conjunction with a separate study of the Northlake Boulevard interchange.
Muñoz said those minor improvements to PGA Boulevard wouldn’t make a significant impact to the three million hours of delay drivers will experience if nothing is built at Central Boulevard. Plus, PGA Boulevard is maxed out — the county isn’t going to consider widening it, he said.
The separate study of Northlake Boulevard that Muñoz referenced, the one that might consider some relief for drivers stuck on PGA Boulevard at rush hour, however, won’t be completed until June 2017. The one on Central Boulevard is estimated to be completed later this year, according to FDOT.
FDOT has said the new Central Boulevard interchange is needed to accommodate future growth and enhance emergency response times. Residents at a January 2015 meeting were concerned about putting additional traffic onto Central Boulevard.
The proposed interchange could be a traditional diamond like the ones at Donald Ross Road and Northlake Boulevard, Muñoz said, or a diverging diamond interchange that eliminates opposing left turns. The latter alternative would require FDOT to acquire more right of way.
Options for the approach to the interchange from Central Boulevard include a collector-distributor road that’s built at grade or an elevated braided ramp. The braided ramp with flyovers is designed so cars won’t be leaving the highway at the same spot where cars are trying to merge onto it.
Levy said the proposed Central Boulevard interchange is the only one he’s seen in Palm Beach County, and maybe all of South Florida, on a residential road.
“I hope you’ll take due consideration that people live there,” Levy said. “Please keep an open mind and ear to the residents.”