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UPDATE: Dwyer High School in Gardens will be open Tuesday

How to improve I-95 interchange at Southern? Officials to look at options


State officials are considering ways to improve the Interstate 95 interchange at Southern Boulevard. And they want your input.

Among changes being considered: adding through and turn lanes on Southern, and improving the I-95 ramps, which could include adding lanes there as well. Though construction could be nearly a decade away, the Florida Department of Transportation is eyeing the interchange, and its ramps in particular, to see what can change as the agency plans for an increase in traffic over the next 25 years.

On Thursday, the board of the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization — which coordinates with municipalities, the county and the state to plan long-term and short-term transportation projects — will hear a presentation from FDOT on options being considered to improve to the interchange.

And next month, FDOT will hold a public meeting to discuss the alternatives with residents near the interchange.

Anson Sonnett, project manager for FDOT, said the work would include new ramps at the interchange as municipal, county and state planners keep an eye on long-term traffic projections.

And when he says long-term, he means long-term.

“They (the current ramps) don’t handle 2040 traffic volumes, so we’ve been charged with making sure that we can get approval to eventually reconfigure the interchange,” Sonnett said.

The presentation before the MPO on Thursday will offer four alternatives, including one that leaves the interchange as-is.

But, Sonnett added, it’s most likely that one of the three so-called “build alternatives” will be chosen.

“We don’t want to wait until an interchange fails and try to address it then,” Sonnett said. “We try to plan for the future.”

Sonnett said the current project timeline has final design in 2021, with right-of-way being purchased in 2022 and construction in 2024.

The estimated cost of design and construction of the project is about $82 million, with another $6 million set aside for right-of-way purchase. However, Sonnett said it is important to remember that “those numbers will change as we zero in on a preferred alternative.”

Following the presentation to the MPO Board, FDOT tentatively has scheduled a public meeting Dec. 1 to discuss options for the project. That workshop, Sonnett said, will be a good time for residents to speak about the project one-on-one with FDOT officials.

Sonnett said if residents aren’t able to attend that meeting, they can go to the project website, www.i95atsouthern.com. There they can view project documentation and make comments on the alternatives.



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