Kudos to the Palm Beach Community Planning Panel for taking the time to explore the implications of the roadway options for Ortiz Avenue. Based on their hands-on research, they voted to support a complete streets approach.
Earlier we reported that the Palm Beach Planning Panel was considering options to respond to the proposed widening of Ortiz Boulevard's northern section.
By way of background, Ortiz Avenue is a road that runs north/south between SR 80 and SR 82 approximately one mile west of I-75 and is identified as part of the County's Primary Bike/Ped Network in the MPO Bike/Ped Master Plan. Ortiz is planned to be widened from a two lane road to a four lane with a median and turns lanes and the speed raised to 45 MPH. In March, the Palm Beach Planning Panel recommended that the County conduct further analysis of the options.
In order to achieve a full understanding of the implications, the panel organized a tour of Gladiolus Boulevard on October 17th.
Gladiolus had been described as being comparable to what the widened Ortiz would look like. The panel interviewed residents, LCSO deputies assigned to the area, and community leaders. Overall, those interviewed liked the street lights, new sidewalks, medians, and new bus shelters. These seem to have improved safety significantly. However, residents also noted that the new roadway design, "was a speedway" and had caused neighbors homes to flood.
At the October 23 Palm Beach Planning Panel meeting, the members discussed the implications of their tour and voted unanimously to support a two lane street with turn lane and medians or crossing islands on Ortiz, north of Ballard, consistent with the community's vision. They asked LeeDOT to investigate other options should capacity be needed in the outyears.
This process is testimony to the importance of walking audits and just getting out to see the realities of streets. Click here for further discussion about the impact that road design has on community livability, economics, and health, and why a complete streets approach makes sense for this section of Ortiz.
Report by Margaret Banyan