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Sidewalk closures cause concerns in Delray Beach

A bicyclist rides on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach on March 18, 2022.jpg
Posted at 4:06 PM, Mar 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-18 16:06:04-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — Congestion and construction are making Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach a traffic nightmare. And with new developments, some residents are concerned about street safety.

You may have noticed more construction in downtown Delray Beach. But even with sidewalks closed, some people still choose to walk on the streets. A dangerous move some nearby residents are hoping to stop.

At the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Northeast 7th Avenue is construction for the $300 million Atlantic Crossing development.

It broke ground in 2018, but four years later, construction continues, along with traffic issues and a closed sidewalk.

"It's dangerous for runners," said resident Penny Hart.

WPTV found Hart running right on Atlantic Avenue, something she said she does at least three times a week.

"I ride in between the cars, basically cause there’s no other way to get anywhere," Hart said.

And she is not alone. WPTV saw at least 20 people walking and biking on the street instead of crossing to the sidewalk on the other side.

"They’re putting themselves at risk," resident Rita Rana said.

Living just across the street, Rana sees this on a daily basis

"Every day. Every night. Between the beachgoers, the restaurant goers, and the partygoers, there are people walking in line of traffic," Rana said.

Just three years ago, a 9-year-old boy died by the construction site after being struck by a front loader.

"I think about that every day," Rana said. "It's almost like a hot potato between the developer, the city, and FDOT. Somebody has to take responsibility for this, to get this open to the public. There's a possible accident that can happen here."

But Delray Beach city commissioners said their hands are tied. This portion of Atlantic Avenue is owned by the Florida Department of Transportation.

"I'm one of those people that believe there's always a solution. But right now, the solution is cross the road and walk on the sidewalk on the other side until it's open," said Commissioner Juli Casale.

Casale said safety is the city’s priority which is why the sidewalk is closed

"The reason we don’t have a sidewalk is for safety purposes. That sounds contradictory but it's not. We want to make sure no hazardous debris hits anyone that’s passing by. Therefore we closed the sidewalk and that has to do with the size of the project," Casale said.

"It really doesn’t take much just to cross the street and go down the right side of the street, but many people just think it's going to be okay and it's a time saver," Rana said.

WPTV reached out to FDOT for answers to when the sidewalk will reopen or alternatives for pedestrians but did not hear back.