SUMMARY: West Palm Beach is taking the right steps to improve mobility, new technology can help improve traffic concerns, and residents are excited about the future of Okeechobee Boulevard.
DETAILS: The future of the Okeechobee corridor was mapped, and a vision created and presented during the four-day Okeechobee Corridor Public Meeting and Charrette on June 12-15, 2017 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Boulevard in West Palm Beach, FL.
Hundreds of people, including community members who were deputized as planners, West Palm Beach leadership, and planning professionals, attended the interactive event.
Part of an ongoing initiative to enhance the way people move in the city, the meeting had, as a key component, public feedback to guide the discussion in creating a modern, well-balanced transportation system that provides real mobility choices, from walking to biking, riding and driving, and improves the safety and reliability of using the Okeechobee Corridor.
The kickoff event, “Mapping the Future,” on June 12, 2017 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. was headlined by Gabe Klein, who co-founded the strategic planning and change management firm CityFi, spoke at TedxMidAtlantic 2016, is a former Department of Transportation commissioner, and published author. Representatives from Alta Planning and Design presented initial findings of the mobility study they are conducting, sharing pre-analysis challenges and best practices in planning and engineering to attendees, who went on to participate in a hands-on workshop.
Klein told the audience,” Putting people first should always be the focus when it comes to developing solutions for the Okeechobee Corridor.”
Two “Okeechobee Boulevard Corridor Study Public Pin-Up” get-togethers, part of the “Creating the Vision” process, followed on June 13-14, 2017 between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m., where the public stopped by and listened to what the design team developed, presenting another collaborative opportunity to discuss the work-in-progress and shape design recommendations for the corridor study.
Part four “Presenting the Vision,” was held of June 15, 2017 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., presented draft ideas from the design team of the previously mentioned Alta Planning and Design and CityFi, along with Sam Schwartz Transportation Consultants, whose business includes transit opportunities and corridor design; VHB®, who provide traffic engineering and corridor design services; and PTC Transportation Consultants, traffic engineers, who unveiled concepts and ideas developed with public input.
The City of West Palm Beach has been studying mobility and transportation in the city since March 2017, working with some of the greatest experts in the field. Collaborators include the Metropolitan Planning Organization, Florida Department of Transportation, Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, Palm Beach County, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Town of Palm Beach, Tri-Rail, Florida Atlantic University, Palm Beach Atlantic University, the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches, and assorted neighborhood and community groups.
“West Palm Beach is committed to being a leader in shifting away from our dependence on cars, and moving towards embracing innovative methods of moving people,” said Mayor Jeri Muoio. “The goal is to develop a transportation system that balances bicycle, pedestrian, transit and car travel in an affordable, sustainable, and safe manner.”
Research in growth patterns in the downtown area showed how the City is already leading the way in absorbing new growth and reducing traffic. Data shows that compared to the rest of the City, downtown West Palm Beach has 20% less cars on the road and 9% more people getting around by walking.
Since 2005, while the number of residential units and commercial space has increased in the downtown, the number of cars using Dixie Highway and Olive Avenue have actually decreased. Tri-Rail (+140%), Palm Tran for downtown routes (+30%) and Trolley Ridership (+65%) are all up as residents are finding others ways to move throughout the downtown. *
The events met the goal of forging consensus and developing short- and long-term solutions for the area, which include intersection improvements, including high emphasis crosswalks; bus routing optimization; a walking and biking network with shared use paths, separate bike lanes and pedestrian crossings; streetscape standards and lighting standards to improve the experience and character of the Corridor; improved way finding; and reduced cycle lengths, side street delays and queues in the near-term. Long-term aspirations determined the need for dedicated bus and transit lanes, a tunnel with a pedestrian plaza and transit hub.
“The city received a lot of great ideas, that we’ll be busy developing into projects for presentation to the City Commission and stakeholder groups,” said Assistant City Administrator Scott Kelly.
The investment in existing and emerging West Palm Beach communities outlined will move people, not just cars, enhancing transportation system performance and all modes, connecting community centers and creating quality places.
The Mobility Plan to identify specific projects to enhance mobility in downtown West Palm Beach and support the development of a downtown mobility fee would allow greater flexibility to fund a range of mobility projects that cannot be funded by traditional transportation impact fees. The Okeechobee Boulevard Corridor Study will identify short- and long-term opportunities to enhance the Okeechobee Boulevard corridor from I-95 to the Lake Worth Lagoon. They are being worked on concurrently with the Downtown Parking Management and Transportation Demand Management Study, to analyze how city-owned parking lots, decks, and on-street parking space can be used to meet the city’s mobility and economic development goals, as well as the City-Wide Bicycle Master Plan, and Public Life Study.
The City of West Palm Beach is scheduled to announce a series of meetings with neighborhood and community groups to speak one-on-one with residents concerning their transportation needs.
Visit wpbmobility.com to see a timeline for the plan, learn about events, see plan development documents and subscribe to an email list to be notified of upcoming workshops and updates. A visit to email@example.com will enable you to share thoughts on the Okeechobee Corridor and connect with City Planners and the mobility team via email. You may also send a tweet to Mayor Muoio using the hashtag #MobilityMayor.
*2005-2013 traffic studies for Dixie Highway and Olive Avenue show a decrease in the number of cars on the roadways.
The study for Dixie Highway took place between (Monroe – Belvedere (-17.4%) and Belvedere – Okeechobee (-11.7%))
The study for Olive Avenue took place between (Monroe – Belvedere (-59.3%) and Belvedere -Okeechobee (-77.9%))