The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has approved construction of the controversial State Road 7 extension project that has been opposed by the mayor of West Palm Beach and environmental activists.
On July 20, the Corps issued a permit to the Florida Department of Transportation and Palm Beach County for construction of the extension from 60th Street North to Northlake Boulevard.
The Corps said the permit authorizes widening the existing two-lane roadway to a four-lane divided roadway from Okeechobee Boulevard to 60th Street North and construction of a new four-lane divided roadway north from 60th Street North to Northlake Boulevard.
Project plans also include construction of stormwater management facilities within the existing right-of-way for water quality treatment and flow attenuation.
The Corps said the plan includes a feature to protect the nearby Grassy Waters Preserve by providing improved runoff quality and emergency containment in the event of a spill.
The project will impact 59.97 acres of low to moderate quality waters, including wetlands and other waters.
The Corps said in a written statement that the project would impact the habitat of the snail kite bird, but the impact would be mitigated through preservation of more than "216 acres of ideal snail kite and woodstork foraging and nesting habitat."
Additionally, the Corps contends that the project includes "52.4 acres of onsite wetland creation, enhancement, restoration, and preservation that will provide endangered species critical habitat benefits and minimize secondary impacts by providing a valuable buffer between the project and the Grassy Waters Preserve."
West Palm Beach city leaders have spent millions of dollars in legal fees fighting the extension.
Residents have said the project will bring added traffic and disrupt the peacefulness of the area.