Construction crews beginning Monday will work until early summer to modernize the Boynton Beach and Winchester Park boulevards intersection, but local and state officials expect the project to cause only a minor traffic disruption.
The project will cost the Florida Department of Transportation about $549,000. The state is hosting an informal workshop for residents Tuesday evening.
While the intersection is well-known to residents as one of congestion and the scene of wrecks, the work is targeted at bringing the area up to Americans with Disabilities Act standards, and attaching the traffic signal equipment to galvanized mast arms instead of hanging by wire. New poles will withstand hurricane-force winds, compared to the existing poles which have a slight lean, said FDOT spokeswoman Meredith Cruz.
But, “with the upgrades and improvements listed under the scope of this project, the goal is the flow of traffic, both motorist and pedestrian, improves as well,” Cruz said.
The crew’s work also includes resurfacing the roadway and updating curbs and gutters.
Throughout the project, lane closures could happen from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Friday and from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sunday to Friday.
“A majority of the work will be performed during the day; however, paving operations toward the end of the project will take place at night,” Cruz said.
The work will be done on Boynton Beach Boulevard in an area less than a half mile long. The work on Winchester Park Boulevard spans just outside the intersection.
Part of the work of upgrading the traffic signal equipment is the addition of video cameras that will be attached to the signals and mast arms.
The cameras are a big improvement for detection of traffic and that should allow the state to better improve traffic capacity, said Jeff Livergood, Boynton’s director of public works and engineering.
On average, about 12,400 vehicles were driven on Winchester Park Boulevard per day near the intersection in 2016, according to FDOT. And 39,500 traveled on Boynton Beach Boulevard just east of the intersection that same year.
In 2017, police were called to 27 traffic wrecks at the intersection and 37 the year before, according to the department’s spokeswoman Stephanie Slater.
This year there have been at least two there — both of which happened Thursday afternoon.
“We were in a roll and we did a quick stop because some idiots above us did whatever they did. My car hit the gas and boom. I didn’t even have a chance to brake,” said Anthony Santello, whose 1998 Toyota Camry bumped into the back of a Palm Beach County building division truck.
While sidestepping his way through heavy traffic across Boynton Beach Boulevard and carrying pieces of his front bumper to the sidewalk, Santello yelled about the intersection — and its drivers.
“The traffic and the way that people drive here during the winter months, I mean hell, they’ll blow the horn at a green light,” he said just outside the BJ’s Wholesale Club store.
About two car-lengths in front of him, three other drivers were in their own traffic wreck.
Livergood said the intersection isn’t any more unusual than any other in that area.
“That’s a busy area during certain hours of the day because of the mall, because of the adjacent shopping, plus it’s a primary arterial route to 95 and the Turnpike,” he said.
Also, it’s the season when snowbirds come to town, making BJ’s shopper Mike Mapes question FDOT’s timing.
“Construction would be better suited to start late spring or early summer when the traffic is half as bad,” he said.
But project timing depends on when money is available, Cruz said.