18 months of A1A construction in Jupiter starts Wednesday

An $8 million project town officials say will make life better on State Road A1A for motorists, pedestrians, bicycle riders and merchants starts Wednesday in the town’s funky fishing village.

Burying power lines, installing new drainage, building bicycle lanes, planting landscaping, constructing on-street parking and sidewalks are part of the plan for the three-quarter mile stretch from U.S. Route 1 south to Jupiter Beach Road. At least one lane will remain open for motorists during the 18 months of construction, said Tom Driscoll, Jupiter’s director of engineering and public works.

“Yes, it will be inconvenient. But it’s worth it. The design will create a more attractive place for people to come here,” said Jimmy Burg, owner of the Square Grouper, a bar on Love Street in the village.

Dick Turrie, a resident of Jupiter River Park along A1A, doesn’t agree. Noise, traffic and more boisterous bars — not the reasons the retired restaurant owner moved from Rochester, N.Y. — will be the result, he said.

“A1A in Jupiter is not Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach. The town is trying to attract too many restaurants and bars and businesses in too small an area,” Turrie said.

Bringing more business to the stretch of A1A is not the only reason for the improvements, said three members of the town council.

A1A property values will increase when the drainage, lighting and landscaping are improved. Safety will be boosted with new sidewalks and bicycle lanes. Motorists will be encouraged to get out of their vehicles and walk with on-street parking, said Vice Mayor Ilan Kaufer and council members Wendy Harrison and Todd Wodraska.

“That area of A1A is old and rundown and needs a facelift. The section of A1A is a key area for redevelopment,” Wodraska said.

The section of A1A is an eclectic mix of mobile home parks, a miniature golf course, restaurants, condominiums, private homes, offices, kayak rentals, a public dock and a small hotel. Jupiter Beach Road is the entrance to DuBois Park and Jupiter Beach Park. The section of A1A is two lanes now and will remain two lanes when work is finished in the spring of 2016, Driscoll said.

Bicycle riders will have a safer place to ride when the project is complete, said Dan Rodriguez, a 22-year-old Palm Beach Gardens resident who sometimes rides that section of A1A. That section of A1A has no bicycle lanes. Riders must peddle on A1A or on a bumpy sidewalk. The new plan calls for four- and five-foot-wide bicycle lanes on both sides.

Signs notifying motorists that the lanes are for bicycles should be in noticeable places, Rodriguez said. Many motorists are unaware that state law requires that drivers stay at least three feet away while passing bicycle riders, he said.

“Drivers need to made aware that those new bicycle lanes are for bicycles, not vehicles,” said Rodriguez, a salesman and bicycle mechanic at Bicycle World of Jupiter.

Increased bicycle and pedestrian access is a growing trend in north county and throughout the nation. The $21 million renovation of the U.S. 1 drawbridge in 2016 includes 5-foot-wide bicycle lanes and sidewalks. Cutting U.S. 1 from six lanes to four to promote walking and biking in Tequesta is being pushed by some village officials.

The Jupiter project comes about eight months after the town took over jurisdiction from Palm Beach County of the three-quarter-mile section of A1A. The town lowered the speed limit to 30 mph to 35 in September.

“We want to enhance the safety for bicycle riders and pedestrians in the recreation corridor,” Kaufer said.

The first phase by Lantana-based Johnson & Davis Inc. costs about $3.7 million. The work, expected to take about seven months, includes burying power lines, installing new drainage and improving underground utilities. The second phase calls for spending about $4.4 million for new sidewalks, turn lanes, landscaping, on-street parking, decorative crosswalks and streetlights.

At least one lane will be open for traffic in each direction during construction. Occasional night road closings will be required to install crosswalks, Driscoll said.

“Improved safety is the goal. We are not planning another Harbourside,” said Harrison, referring to the $150 million entertainment center recently opened on the northwest corner of Indiantown Road and U.S. 1.

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