- Alexandra Seltzer Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Some good news on the plans to reconstruct the Hypoluxo Road bridge over Florida’s Turnpike: Officials say they don’t expect to ever close all lanes of travel.
Instead, one lane in each direction will remain open during construction, said Fiorella Teodista, a construction public information officer with Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise.
Still, that piece of news didn’t silence all concerns at Thursday’s workshop.
The bridge borders four communities, whose residents are worried about noise and traffic.
The $5 million bridge work is part of a massive $159 million widening project to reduce congestion that will expand the turnpike, and increase the number of lanes between Boynton Beach Boulevard and Lake Worth Road to eight. The turnpike will pay for the project with toll revenue, officials said.
The Hypoluxo bridge itself will not be widened; only reworked to remove one of the support structures that is in the way of widening the turnpike in that area. Work to then repave Hypoluxo Road will stretch about 600 feet east and west of the bridge. The state plans to do a study in 2020 on whether the road warrants a turnpike interchange.
“We know how important this bridge is for the community that lives in this area,” Teodista said.
The entire project is expected to start spring of 2019. Hypoluxo bridge reconstruction is expected to start one year into that, Teodista said. All work should be finished by spring 2023.
Villaggio residents, who live west of the bridge, said they are concerned with the widening project — not the bridge — and the noise it will bring. The community developer already built a sound wall, but residents say it’s not tall enough. Sound walls will be built for the communities that border the bridge on the east, Smith Farm and Lake Charleston, said Jim Sumislaski, an engineer and principal of Kimley-Horn.
Resident Eric Kaplan said he’s worried about traffic flow on Hypoluxo immediately west of the bridge during construction. He said residents of the Isola Bella and Villaggio communities already have trouble navigating Hypoluxo because the exits are directly across from one another. The problem is mainly with drivers who make a left to head east out of Villaggio and those who make a left to travel west out of Isola.
They meet in the middle of the road “so they’re in danger of hitting one another,” he said.
He said traffic backup will just make it worse, and hopes Palm Beach County will help alleviate the problem. Residents say a traffic light would help.
But Kaplan said the widening is necessary.
“The turnpike needs to be widened and it’s an issue we shouldn’t stand in the way of. Enhanced traffic flow on turnpike is warranted and required and we have to accept the inconveniences,” he said.