WESTERN PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. - The road less traveled or maybe more traveled is what many are debating when it comes to State Road 7. Palm Beach County has already done work to make the road longer and the state wants to continue to extend it, but environmental worries are coming from cities like West Palm Beach.
If you go to State Road 7 now, at one end it stops just after turning off of Northlake Blvd. On the other end towards Okeechobee it ends at 60th Street near the Pond Cypress Natural Area.
"It's just access. It's connectivity," Palms West Chamber of Commerce CEO Jaene Miranda said. "There's not that many access routes out of the western communities. State Road 7 is one of those roads that's been in the plans to provide that."
The state predicts the project would cost about $50 million to put in the extension to connect the two parts of the road through the Grassy Waters Preserve.
Palm Beach County already paid to extend it from Okeechobee Blvd. up to 60th Street near the Village of Royal Palm Beach.
"Let's take the money we would spend on this road and put it in a place where it would go farther," West Palm Beach's Mayor Jeri Muoio said.
For instance, Muoio said access could be granted to the western communities by widening other roads that connect to that part of the county.
Palms West CEO Miranda, whose chamber serves The Acreage, Loxahatchee, Greenacres, Loxahatchee Groves, Royal Palm Beach and Wellington, said the cost to extend the road would bring more revenue.
"What it would give back to our communities here locally would more than exceed the money spent on building the road," Miranda said. "We're looking at billions of dollars in economic impact."
Beyond money, West Palm Beach's Mayor says this extension poses a threat to the environment and mainly the city's water supply. The road would extend right through the city's water catchment area.
"We're concerned about truck traffic and it's going to truck route," Mayor Muoio said. "What if a tanker truck with some kind of poisonous chemical misses that right turn and ends up in our water supply."
Miranda's answer to that is mitigation. The current extension is lined with guardrails and a 20 ft. fence.
"Studies can be done and the right steps can be put in place during the planning process to make sure we don't have those concerns," Miranda said.
But Mayor Muoio says that too cost money.
"If this proceeds we will fight it at every permitting level we can," Muoio said.
If you'd like to weigh in... the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization will be hosting a public hearing at 9 a.m. about the project Thursday, July 21 in the Palm Beach County Governmental Center.
The address is 301 N. Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, Fla. It will be in the McEaddy Conference Room on the 12th floor.
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