Palm Beach County residents fear Turnpike projects will bring traffic, construction noise

Noise walls could be solution

BOCA RATON, Fla. - People who drive Florida's Turnpike should get ready for some big changes.

The effort is on cut down those regular traffic jams we see throughout South Florida, but will that add noise in nearby neighborhoods?

The plan is to expand Florida's Turnpike to five lanes each way between Glades Road in Boca Raton and Boynton Beach Boulevard.

People fear noise levels and ongoing construction for years could give them headaches.

One particular stretch of roadwork is getting a lot of attention, which includes a neighborhood where Cherie and Larry Gross live.

"When I lived in New York, I lived a couple of miles from Kennedy airport. Never bothered me," said Larry. "We live very close to the Turnpike, doesn't bother me at all but other people it does bother."

Cherie and Larry run their real estate business from home. Now living in Delray Beach, they need all the peace and quiet they can get.

"Every year we have more and more people more and more traffic," said Cherie. "It definitely affects the real estate, in all these country clubs."

But with a huge expansion project planned from Boca Raton to Delray Beach more lanes could mean more noise. It could also affect the Gross' realty work with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services. They focus on homes in their own neighborhood, Addison Reserve Country Club.

"Some of the houses that are close to the Turnpike get a little less money because of the sound," said Larry.

The Florida Department of Transportation recently unveiled plans to expand the highway to 10 lanes, with construction beginning in 2022. Planners say if they don't do this by 2035, traffic jams will get worse.

Click the photos above to see part of FDOT's project presentation.

"It behooves us to go ahead and build those lanes now, that added capacity can help," said Chad Huff, Public Information Officer for Florida's Turnpike Enterprise. "More lanes creates more options for people that want to use the turnpike."

Neighbors are pushing for walls to help block the construction and traffic noise. These concerns were voiced during a meeting with the Alliance of Delray Residence Associations on June 19, where Cherie and Larry learned about the project. FDOT and Florida Turnpike officials have hosted several meetings with local neighborhoods to address resident's concerns.

"They said they would try their best and I'm going to take that as a promise," said Cherie.

"They said it was going to be a 20- to 35-year project," said Larry. "Should they widen the road? Yeah, I think it's a good thing. Traffic will flow much better. But the noise factor has to be attended to."

With hurricane and building codes, officials are limited to a 22-foot high wall.

"There's a very specific set of criteria that have to be met," said Huff. "There's many studies to be done but it looks like many of them will be getting a wall."

The good news out of all of this: Tolls for drivers won't increase.

"All of our construction projects is bonded and built with tolls that have been taken in or have already been taken in right now," said Huff.

The Turnpike also plans to add express lanes, creating an additional toll within a toll. It will be the first of its kind in the entire country.

"We like to give people a choice," said Huff. "

While FDOT finalizes their plans, the grosses are preparing to adjust their business to sell houses.

"I know it's going to make our life a little harder. We'll be explaining ourselves more than we have been," said Cherie.

Further north in Palm Beach County, workers are planning to break ground on Turnpike lane expansion and express lane work as early as 2018. It will expand from four to eight lanes from Boynton Beach Boulevard north to Lake Worth.

Work is already being done on the Glades Road interchange. Click here to learn more.

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