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West Palm Beach lays out plan for traffic improvements on Okeechobee Boulevard

Posted at 7:31 PM, Jul 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-31 19:31:50-04

At its best, Okeechobee Boulevard is a convenient east-west corridor across the West Palm Beach metro area.

At its worst, many say it’s just the worst.

“Three blocks can take you 10, 15, 20 minutes,” says commuter Lorraine Powers.

Fellow commuter Timothy Schulz agrees.

“It would take us 20 to 25 minutes to get to 95 on a really bad day,” he says.

The city has heard it all, and after working with consultants, now they're giving specifics.

“We have some great short-term ideas and some long-term ideas,” says West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio.

One common worry; the traffic signals.

“You go from red light to red light to red light, and with all the cars in between, there's nowhere to go,” Schulz says.

Assistant West Palm Beach City Manager Scott Kelly says they are exploring a solution proposed by the study.

“Synchronize the signals, as well as shorten the cycle length,” he says.

The Royal Park Bridge also poses problems for many commuters. 

“The bridge is up, and the traffic is backed up from Flagler Drive all the way to 95,” Schulz says.

The city says it's working on it. Kelly says they are trying to reduce the number of times the bridge opens, especially during rush hour.

However, the city would have to apply for permission for that through the Coast Guard, and approval could take months.

Other proposals include optimizing Palm Tran routes and adding a bus express lane, improving street lighting, and restriping roadways and pedestrian crosswalks.

The plans have been met with some cautious optimism.

“I think it would work,” Schulz says. “I think it's something they should look at, and probably look at a bunch of other things as well.”

Don't expect to see this all happen tomorrow.

Most of those things will take a few years to put into place, and will require cooperation between multiple county and state agencies.

The next step in the process is figuring out how to fund those projects.