Last week, I received a letter with FDOT responses to public comment made at the August 27th open house meeting regarding the project to resurface and restripe Quadrille Boulevard from Clematis Street north to Dixie.
To briefly recap the meeting, about ten stakeholders showed up. Every single person was united in a desire for more livable street design and safety, including narrowing of travel lanes and addition of some combination of bike lanes and/or parallel parking. I did not hear anyone express enthusiasm for the FDOT plan as it stood and a good deal of the conversation was a hearty debate about Lane width, with many present attacking FDOT for building dangerous by design roads through our city. Mr. Le, PE, stated that FDOT essentially does not allow lanes of less than 11′ on a road with a design speed of 35 mph or greater. This begs the question: why does FDOT feels it is necessary to have a design speed well over 35 mph through an urban core, with all the data indicating how speed kills? Why are our roads designed to prioritize speed, rather than safety?
At one point in the meeting, after listening patiently to the engineers explain their plan for their stretch of roadway ad nauseum, I interjected strongly to state our position for what we want, as a resident and representative of our neighborhood. It was apparent that the officials were merely going through the motions, checking off the necessary boxes in a process to lead FDOT to where they want to end up. Unsurprisingly, the response letter I received reflected this, essentially dismissing all of the comment myself and others made. At least I included Speck’s recommendations for this segment of Quadrille and it is in the public record, for what it’s worth.
This is a very timely debate as the public’s simmering discontent over dangerous by design county and FDOT roads builds to a boil. Jeff Speck’s article last week puts the onus on FDOT to prove why 10′ lanes shouldn’t be built in an urban setting, with ample evidence to back up the safety benefits. For its part, FDOT has recently issued a memo supporting Complete Streets, a positive move in the right direction for which they are to be applauded. Meanwhile, on a project for which they could make a safer and more responsive choice, today, by simply restriping lanes differently, FDOT is ignoring this mandate. Cognitive dissonance, anyone?
Even our local MPO director is pushing for safer designs that account for all users. He recommends we start with resurfacing projects such as this one. It doesn’t have to cost a bunch of money. From the Sun Sentinel:
“We need to think about reconstructing what we have in a better fashion,” said Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization executive director Nick Uhren, at a recent meeting. “How do we implement complete streets in resurfacing projects? How do we improve safety on roads for cyclists and pedestrians?”
The Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization, the county’s transportation planning agency, is pushing for the concept.
As the planning organization is updating its long-range plan, it has added the implementation of complete streets principles as one of its top goals with the focus on redevelopment areas and urban centers such as downtowns.
Here’s what the Federal Highway Administration’s PEDSAFE tool recommends for Quadrille Boulevard. Fewer lanes, lane narrowing, and bike lanes top recommendations.
FDOT has an opportunity to align words with deeds and make our streets safer and more livable, now. Let’s take the opportunity to restripe this roadway in a manner that supports complete streets and safer transportation for all users.