Focus on bikes could convince state to OK South Dixie narrowing


A plan taking shape to put South Dixie Highway on a diet, trimming a mile-and-a-half section from four lanes to three, is more likely to gain state approval if West Palm Beach pumps up its programs to encourage bike riding.

That’s what Dana Little, urban design director for the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, told the city commission Tuesday about plans he has been assembling to redesign the roadway south of downtown.

“I feel pretty good about it, better now than I ever have,” he said at a commission work session in city hall.

The plan calls for slowing cars, adding parking in commercial areas and improving the area for walkers and bikers. It would attempt that by narrowing lanes from Okeechobee Boulevard to just south of Belvedere Road, and converting one of the four lanes into a central turn lane through much of the stretch. Dozens of shade trees would line South Dixie.

Little said studies need to be completed to make sure the project wouldn’t snarl traffic and whether the benefits would outweigh peak hour problems it might aggravate.

But so far, he said, the impact would not be bad. As a result of the narrowing, some cars would choose to switch to such parallel roadways as Olive, Lake or Parker avenues.

The turn lane would reduce accidents, he added. “We believe that through these efforts we can make it safer for motorists.”

Traffic will continue to be bad at the intersection of Okeechobee and South Dixie whether the project is completed or not, Little said. However, because the project would divert cars to the other roads, “traffic fails slightly less with the three-lane scenario,” he said.

The key will be winning Florida Department of Transportation approval, since South Dixie is a state road, Little said.

Parts of the design don’t meet state standards. But by demonstrating city efforts to build bike lanes and make other bicycle-related improvements, enhancing the city’s network of bicycle-friendly areas, for example, the city can counter state resistance, he said.

No decisions have been made on how to pay for the improvements, which he estimated would cost several million dollars. One way to ease the city’s burden would be to schedule the roadwork for when the state already is scheduled to resurface South Dixie, he said. The latest estimate is that might not happen for another 10 or 12 years, however, but there are other sources of funding the city can pursue, he said.

Little said he expected to return to the commission next month to request a formal endorsement for the project, which is necessary to gain state approval.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

South Carolina authorities searching for 3 escaped inmates
South Carolina authorities searching for 3 escaped inmates

South Carolina authorities are searching for three inmates -- two of whom are charged with murder -- who escaped from a jail, WRDW reported. The Orangeburg County Sheriff's Office said in a Facebook post that the trio escaped from the county detention center Saturday night and that all are considered dangerous. The three inmates were identified...
Police: 13-year-old in custody after 2 children shot in Central Florida city
Police: 13-year-old in custody after 2 children shot in Central Florida city

Two children were hospitalized after being shot in a Central Florida city Saturday evening and a 13-year-old boy was in custody, police said.  The incident occurred shortly before 6 p.m. in the Brevard County city of Palm Bay. Two juvenile victims, who police did not identify, were taken to nearby hospitals in serious but stable condition, police...
North Carolina deputies find nearly $91 million of liquid meth on truck
North Carolina deputies find nearly $91 million of liquid meth on truck

Deputies in North Carolina on Saturday seized a tractor-trailer containing $90.8 million worth of liquid methamphetamine in the driver's side fuel tank, WTVD reported. Raul Topete Arreola, 49, and Aquileo Perez Pineda, 48, were charged with three counts of trafficking methamphetamine, according to the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office. Deputies...
WATCH: Veterans arrive home to cheers and hugs after trip to Washington D.C.
WATCH: Veterans arrive home to cheers and hugs after trip to Washington D.C.

The noise filled the entrance to Concourse A and B long before the men in red hats arrived. About 300 people had already come, some wearing cowboy boots, some holding USA signs, some sporting freshly pressed military uniforms and pushing walkers with American flags pinned to the sides. “We came to honor our boys,” said Frank Bonfiglio,...
25 people in New York City hospitalized for synthetic marijuana overdoses
25 people in New York City hospitalized for synthetic marijuana overdoses

Twenty-five people in New York City were hospitalized Saturday night after apparently having a negative reaction to synthetic marijuana, WABC reported. Lt. Paul Ng of the New York Police Department said that the drug, known as K2, was taken by people in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn. They were taken to the hospital after reports of...
More Stories