Thanks to a phone call from a concerned resident and a swift response from Palm Beach County employees, changes are coming to an intersection where three people, including a South Florida Fair performer and her husband, were seriously injured in a crash last week.
Kristen Johnson, who performs as Lady Houdini, canceled her performances at the fair after she and her husband, Kevin Ridgeway, were injured Thursday in the wreck at the intersection of Belvedere Road and Sansbury’s Way, just north of the fairgrounds. No further information had been made available on their condition as of Tuesday.
Enter Patty Marsh.
The Wellington resident’s children attend The King’s Academy, which sits on the intersection’s northeast corner. Marsh said she decided to reach out to the county after the crash because one of the three people injured is friends with her daughter and a junior at the school.
“I have seen many accidents there,” said Marsh, who fills in as the school’s nurse when needed. “It’s amazing how many people try to make a lefthand turn there into the school.”
Her call, which she made Friday morning, prompted county engineers to look into possible safety issues at the intersection. And what they found was jarring.
A review found “sight issues” with the left-turn lanes from Belvedere onto Sansbury’s, county engineer George Webb said. The review also found about 11 crashes there in the past two years, he added.
“That certainly exceeded what we find acceptable,” Webb said.
Part of the problem: Large trucks that frequently use the intersection to access the Manheim Auto Auction grounds and the Solid Waste Authority’s transfer station south of Belvedere near the fairgrounds can block the line of sight for drivers in smaller vehicles.
Within the next few weeks, crews will change the traffic signals for the left turn lanes on eastbound and westbound Belvedere Road at the intersection from “protected permissive” — drivers can make a left turn even after a green arrow — to just protected — drivers have to wait for a green arrow, and receive a red arrow at the end of their turn.
“You’re going to only be able to turn on an arrow and then you’re going to have to wait,” Webb said.
Marsh said she was surprised and pleased with the response, especially because it’s the first time she’s called her local government about an issue.
“I’m just very impressed that they made that change, and they went out there that day and investigated if something needed to be changed,” she said.