PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — The controversial proposal to extend State Road 7 in western Palm Beach County is ramping up once again.
The extension will be up for discussion when the Transportation Planning Agency meets next month. However, concerns about the potential impact on the Grassy Waters Preserve is sparking another wave of debate.
Grassy Waters Preserve is a 23-square-mile wetlands ecosystem that serves as the freshwater supply for the City of West Palm Beach and the towns of South Palm Beach and Palm Beach Island.
The preserve is located on Northlake Boulevard west of the Beeline Highway.
The area has also become heavy with traffic during the busy morning and evening rush hour, especially with the construction of new homes and large-scale developments.
Many drivers say extending State Road 7 from Okeechobee Boulevard to Northlake Boulevard would play a major role in alleviating congestion.
In December, the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency voted to remove the State Road 7 extension from its 25-year transportation plan.
West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James supported that decision and has become increasingly vocal against the State Road 7 extension to Northlake Boulevard.
Some of his concerns include the potential degradation from nutrient discharges from the proposed road and the environmental impact.
This week, county commissioners decided the proposal needs more review by the Palm Beach Transportation Planning Agency.
“We should have State Road 7 built. We did the section from Okeechobee Boulevard to 60th Street North five years ago. That would help a lot of the conditions we’re seeing now,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay.
A proposed amendment to put the extension back on the transportation plan will be on the agenda when the agency meets on Feb. 20.
The public will have the opportunity to share their thoughts during the meeting.
An online comment form will also be available at least two weeks beforehand.