The state is spending millions of dollars to make Interstate 95 traffic move more smoothly at four Palm Beach County exits.
Construction at the Hypoluxo Road and Interstate 95 interchange is underway and will launch at three other I-95 projects in the county by the end of the year. Work is expected to be complete in the summer of 2017.
The four Palm Beach County projects plus one from Hillsboro Boulevard to Southwest 10th Street in Broward County will cost $31.2 million, according to the Florida Department of Transportation and are meant to reduce congestion at the interchanges and surrounding areas.
The interchange projects started in Broward in May and at Hypoluxo Road in June. Next up are Woolbright and 10th Avenue North in September, followed by Donald Ross in November. The projects are part of a bigger FDOT interchange master plan study to identify needs throughout the county.
Hypoluxo, Woolbright and 10th Avenue North are considered short-term and can be completed “rather quickly,” FDOT spokesman Chuck McGinness said. Work at Donald Ross was included in this group at the county’s request to prepare for expected growth in northern Palm Beach County.
FDOT officials have tried to minimize traffic headaches at morning and evening rush hours, and say the work on the interstate will start daily at 9 p.m. and end at 5 a.m. But construction and lane closings on the roads — Hypoluxo in Lantana, Woolbright in Boynton Beach, 10th Avenue North in Lake Worth, and Donald Ross, which divides Palm Beach Gardens and Jupiter — is expected during the day.
The project’s four Palm Beach County interchanges are busy but are less traveled than others in the county. The busiest of the four is Woolbright with an average daily number of vehicles of 54,000, and the least traveled is Donald Ross with 37,300, according to FDOT. In comparison, Glades Road in Boca Raton sees 61,800 and Southern Boulevard in West Palm Beach has 67,000.
Work at 10th Avenue North is the most expensive, at $11.2 million. Construction includes widening the avenue from Barnett Drive to A Street; two eastbound left turn lanes onto I-95; widening the northbound entrance ramp and widening the three-lane southbound exit ramp to four lanes.
Next in price is Woolbright. The project includes widening and resurfacing the road from SW 18th Street to SW Second Street; creating two left turn lanes onto I-95 in eastbound and westbound directions; widening the northbound entrance ramp; and reconstructing the southbound exit ramp to create a free-flow right turn to westbound.
Boynton’s Mayor Jerry Taylor said he has experienced the backup on Woolbright to get onto I-95 and was thrilled to hear of the construction.
“Woolbright has become a very busy road in the city so we can really use that widening,” he said. “That’s a huge undertaking. I look forward to it.”
Hypoluxo, in comparison, hasn’t been the subject of complaints, Lantana Mayor David Stewart and Hypoluxo Mayor Ken Schultz said. But FDOT listed the southbound off-ramp as a problem area where traffic backs up during the evening peak hours.
That’s why the project includes widening the three-lane southbound exit ramp to lengthen turn lanes, as well as reconfiguring the Hypoluxo roadway approaches and creating two eastbound left turn lanes onto I-95.
The Donald Ross project is least expensive at $1.6 million. It includes widening the northbound and southbound exit ramps to accommodate triple right and left turns to eastbound Donald Ross. The southbound entrance ramp also will be widened.
The work was prompted by development of the former Briger Tract, said Dan Weisberg, the director of the county’s traffic division. A Kolter Group subsidiary filed to build 331 houses on 206 acres of land just west of I-95 and United Technologies plans to build a showroom on another portion of the property.
“Abacoa is still building and the Briger property is starting to get going,” Weisberg said. “There’s going to be significant growth in that area.”