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Downtown West Palm Beach drivers feel frustration of morning commute

Construction projects, lane closures cause daily gridlock -- and it's not going away anytime soon
Traffic backed up on Okeechobee Boulevard in downtown West Palm Beach, Oct. 5, 2021
Posted at 4:48 PM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 17:08:17-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — As many as 39 employees at the Palm Beach County Courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach were late for work Tuesday morning, according to a spokesperson in the clerk's office.

Traffic was the reason.

These days, long morning backups into downtown are now becoming part of the daily commute as construction projects seem to be at every corner.

"This is what I got to deal with every day through here," a driver, who identified himself only as Caesar, told WPTV as he was inching along Banyan Boulevard.

Vehicles stopped on railroad tracks on Banyan Boulevard, Oct. 5, 2021
Vehicles are stopped in front of the railroad tracks along Banyan Boulevard as an Amtrak train passes by, Oct. 5, 2021, in downtown West Palm Beach, Fla.

"We should have been there, like, 20 minutes ago," Lee, a passenger in a car headed to a destination on Clematis Street, shared.

So what does the city have to say about it?

"I drive into downtown every day," Assistant City Administrator Armando Fana said. "So I understand the frustration sometimes with traffic and, you know, it's just part of a growing city."

Fana said West Palm Beach's development and growth is unique in South Florida, and several projects are putting a strain on traffic.

Among the larger road projects is the Banyan Boulevard beautification project, which has one eastbound lane closed into downtown.

Eastbound traffic backed up on Banyan Boulevard near WPTV, Oct. 5, 2021
Eastbound traffic headed into downtown is backed up near WPTV's building, Oct. 5, 2021, in West Palm Beach, Fla. Much of Banyan Boulevard is under construction.

"The whole project is about a two-year project, so it is quite a long project, but it will allow for more capacity," Fana said.

In the meantime, he said, workers should try to flex schedules if they can and use GPS apps to be aware of detours and delays.

New office and residential buildings may also provide an opportunity for more people to live and work in downtown, Fana said.

Much of the downtown construction should wind down in about two years, he said.

"I think it's safe to say we're going to live with development a little bit," he added.