Crosstown Parkway design causing controversy

Posted at 1:13 AM, Jan 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-01-14 01:13:49-05

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Crosstown Parkway extension project has been in the works for years in Port St. Lucie.

But, a design detail coming to surface in the plan is causing some controversy.

More than 200 Port St. Lucie residents attended a bridge design meeting Wednesday held to give the public a chance to give their input on public art they would like to see included on the bridge.

Project administrators also discussed another design feature some residents weren't as pleased with, called a Super Street.

Project leaders expect an increase in traffic to the area of Floresta Drive and West Virginia Drive when the bridge is completed. West Virginia Drive will become part of the Crosstown expansion.

Floresta Drive is only a 2 lane road, and project officials want to keep it that way. But, in order to keep traffic moving, the project design calls for blocking traffic from traveling north and south along Floresta Drive through the intersection of West Virginia Drive.

Instead, motorists will have to turn right, make a u-turn down the road, and make another right turn to get back onto Floresta.

Some residents worry not being able to travel straight through the intersection will actually make traffic worse.

James Lambert lives right on the corner of the intersection. "My first impression is I don't like it," Lambert said. "There will be confusion. There are a lot of accidents there now. I think there will be accidents when it first happens."

Project Administrator, George Denti, says the plan should do the exact opposite. "[Drivers] will be able to negotiate this move far better than waiting through several cycles of traffic," Denti explained.

He said Crosstown traffic will grow tremendously, which could leave Floresta drivers waiting at a light longer if they were to continue driving straight through the intersection.

Denti says the U-turn will also be given a special traffic signal.

Port St. Lucie Mayor, Greg Oravec, says he was initially concerned about the Super Street, and questioned why that design detail was only now being discussed.

"I was surprised that I was being presented with a first ever in Florida design this far into it," Oravec said, saying he learned of it only a week ago.

While Oravec says he is surprised there is not as much backlash to the super street as he expected, he still has questions about how much time it will save drivers, what the added costs might be, and how safe it is.

Denti said he has met with law enforcement and fire rescue to ensure them they will still be able to drive straight through the intersection so as not to delay response times.

Resident Maria Vicente isn't worried about the Super Street. "If it's going to alleviate traffic, that's what they need to do. I just want it done."

Construction for the project is still set to begin this summer. Project leaders, however, are still waiting for several construction permit approvals.