WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Palm Beach County officials said Wednesday night they would review plans to repair a main road in downtown West Palm Beach because of drainage problems during storms.
Officials from the county listened to a group of about 50 people at Gaines Park Community Center criticize their plan to fix the drainage problem on Australian Avenue, which officials said about 25,000 to 30,000 cars travel every day between 45th Street and Palm Beach Lakes Boulevard.
Officials said the new project will add a sidewalk along the water treatment facility, reconstruct a larger median to county safety standards and create a "refuge" area for left-turning vehicles.
David Ricks, who is the Palm Beach County public works director and an engineer, said plans are for the larger median, an expanded road and a shoulder area to stop flooding in the area because it will create more space for pipes underground.
"You got to put some large pipes underground and have those pipes, basically a convenience system to waterfalls," Ricks said.
He said the county uses a larger standard for its median because it doesn't allow people enough space to turn safely from feedback on past projects.
Ricks also said it is making the road more accessible for bikes and lowering vehicle speeds by installing curbs and gutters.
Lidia Mika said she is concerned the changes to the road will make the neighborhood look more urban. She said she is also concerned about more people speeding because one travel lane will grow in size.
"Australian Avenue is supposed to be 35 miles per hour," Mika said. "But, they don't go 35. Usually, traffic is about 40, 50, 60. Widening the road is only going to make people go faster."
The project will also remove about 60 trees, which protects properties from cars traveling off the road.
Ricks said it made adjustments to its past plans to add trees based on past feedback sessions. He said some trees will have to leave if they are too close to the road or else the county could get sued.
"There’s a requirement to the clear zone," Ricks said. "You can have trees within so many feet of the roadway."
Officials said they will look at making changes to the sidewalk dimensions to make the area look more residential.