'It's really bad': In Lake Worth Beach, residents fume about endless road construction (2024)

LAKE WORTH BEACH — Tammy Pansa has been a Lake Worth Beach resident since 2007, and she understands the quirkiness and coziness of a city that has 37,000 residents packed into 7 square miles.

On a daily basis, there are thousands of pedestrians, scooter riders, bicyclists, business owners and motorists trying to get from here to there in tight quarters. It's what makes all the current road construction "so frustrating" for Pansa and residents.

"My biggest gripe is the lack of organization and communication of officials with the many road projects," she vented.

"I understand the city needs roadwork done. I get that. But why do we have all of the construction going on at the same time when a detour for one turns into another construction project when the first one isn't even finished? It's just silly."

'It's really bad': In Lake Worth Beach, residents fume about endless road construction (1)

In Lake Worth Beach, construction is at every turn it seems. Among the current projects:

  • Improving and lengthening turn lanes on Sixth Avenue South at Interstate 95, adding bicycle lanes and sidewalks, building sound walls and enhancing drainage, signs, lighting and pavement markings. It's part of an $18 million project started in November. Completion is planned for late 2025.
  • Repaving, new traffic signals, sidewalks, lighting and 7-foot-wide bicycle lanes are among the improvements being made on Lake Worth Road at the Palm Beach State College entrance. The $14 million project is scheduled to be complete this summer.
  • Building a 6-foot-wide sidewalk along Lake Osborne Drive, adding better lighting on Lake Worth Road and installing new pedestrian signals are part of a $2.8 million project started in January. Completion is scheduled for this summer.
  • Resurfacing the pavement, installing better signs, improving sidewalks and enhancing curb ramps to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act are part of the $5.4 million project underway on Lucerne and Lake avenues. The project is between east of A Street to east of Golfview Road. Completion of the 2 miles of the twin downtown east-west roadways is planned for early 2025.
'It's really bad': In Lake Worth Beach, residents fume about endless road construction (2)

And on the construction runway — upgrades to North Federal Highway begin in May.

Specifically, Pansa is critical of the road flow that chokes traffic.

"Take Sixth Avenue South," she said. "You go from two really busy lanes to one lane, and it clogs up at the intersection before it opens up to five lanes. There's absolutely no reason to bottleneck it down to one lane."

Concern about all the road construction is the primary feeling Mayor Betty Resch gets from city residents.

“There are so many construction projects. People don’t know what end is up,” said Resch, who won a second term as mayor in a runoff election Tuesday night.

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After her election win, Resch said the city's roads need repairing, but admits construction can drag on.

"Our roads are a problem," Resch said. "We've never been a rich town. There's always been a lot of delayed maintenance."

The city is often at the mercy of the Florida Department of Transportation on many of the projects, such as the paving of Lake and Lucerne Avenues and the turn lanes on Sixth Avenue South.

"We have city, county and state road construction all going on at the same time," Pansa griped. "They need to communicate and work with each other to make things easier for residents. It's not happening."

Pansa, who is a Realtor, is used to driving the city's roads during the day and is annoyed by the number of large trucks using side streets to get through town because the major roads are clogged with traffic and construction.

"It's really bad," she said. "The traffic on the alphabet streets (In Lake Worth Beach, north and south side streets are labeled A Street from Interstate 95 to O Street at the intracoastal) is just as jammed up as Dixie Highway."

Pansa also pointed out the various flooding issues that exacerbate the road problems, particularly on Dixie Highway at three locations — Third Avenue North at the Burger King, 14th Avenue South near the Key Food Fresh Supermarket and near Harry's Banana Farm at 19th Avenue North. She said flooding is also a problem off Lake Worth Road just west of Interstate 95 at the El Bodegon Plaza.

FDOT trying to open communication lines from 'Coffee with Construction' public meetings

Officials have tried to open up some communication lines with a recent Thursday night "Coffee with Construction" meeting the public could attend and ask officials information.

Pansa, however, said she and other residents didn't get the mail flyers until Friday and it was too late.

Some, however, did attend and expressed their concerns.

“Everywhere you look, there’s construction going on. It gets old after a while,” said veterinarianJohn Lynch, whose Lake Osborne Animal Shelter office on Lake Osborne Drive is near one of several construction projects in and around the city.

'It's really bad': In Lake Worth Beach, residents fume about endless road construction (4)

Lynch was among about two dozen locals at Common Grounds Brew & Roastery on J Street for the meeting on the Federal Highway project. The meeting was called by the Florida Department of Transportation in the downtown coffee shop across the street from The Bamboo Room.

Scheduled to start in late May, the project includes resurfacing, lighting, drainage, improving curb ramps and sidewalks, making the speed limit 25 mph and installing new signals and signs at pedestrian crossings.

Completion of the $2.3 million project on North Federal Highway from south of 10th Avenue South to Sixth Avenue North is scheduled for spring of 2025.

FDOT usually holds such information meetings at sedate places like city halls, but the recent meeting at Common Grounds is part of a “new approach” by FDOT to encourage more public participation, said Leslie Wetherell, project manager for the Florida Department of Transportation.

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“Getting resident feedback is important. We listen and learn,” Wetherell said.

For example, she said Lake Worth Beach residents suggested eliminating existing center turn lanes on North Federal Highway between Second Avenue North and Sixth Avenue North at an earlier meeting.

“After hearing their concerns, we are taking out those center turn lanes. Six-foot-wide bicycle lanes on both sides are going in,” said Wetherell, pointing to that section of the map on North Federal Highway near Sacred Heart Catholic Church and the Parrot Cove apartments.

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New signal lights for pedestrians got the attention of Vincent Cerniglia, a musician who lives along Federal Highway.

“We ride our bicycles and walk to most places. New signals will make crossing the streets much safer for us and others, especially during rush hour,” said Cerniglia.

Parking his blue golf cart outside the coffee shop, Greg Richter said he was glad to see the roadwork being done. As president of the South Palmway Neighborhood Association, Richter was concerned about parking and diverting traffic during construction.

“I’m here to find out what’s going on. I’ll report back to our association,” said Richter, a Realtor.

When will the paving project for Lake and Lucerne Avenues be completed?

'It's really bad': In Lake Worth Beach, residents fume about endless road construction (5)

At the meeting, FDOT rolled out its expansive plan for the paving project on Lake and Lucerne Avenues, which has been in the works for many years.

Crews will first redo sidewalks, curbs and lighting on both streets in sections, which will last through the summer. The road resurfacing won't begin until early fall, officials say.

Inevitably, traffic will be affected but for the city, which has long wanted a fresh look for its signature avenues, it is worth it.

The goal for the paving project is to be completed in time for the 2025 Lake Worth Beach Street Painting Festival, which will give the artists a newly minted canvas.

For information on the Federal Highway project in Lake Worth Beach and other Palm Beach County road construction, go tod4fdot.com.

James Coleman is a journalist at thePalm Beach Post, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him atjcoleman@pbpost.comand follow him on X (formerly known as Twitter) at@JimColeman11. Help support our journalism.Subscribe today.

'It's really bad': In Lake Worth Beach, residents fume about endless road construction (2024)
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