City, residents against state plans to add ‘Turbo Lane’ at busy intersection

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Staff report

The Florida Department of Transportation is scheduled to begin construction later this month on a “turbo lane” at the northbound on-ramp to Interstate 95 at Atlantic Avenue to alleviate traffic backups.

But safety concerns for pedestrians and bicyclists have city officials and residents asking the state to hold off on the plans.

The project includes adding: the turbo lane, a small concrete wall so drivers can’t cut over lanes, a shared bike lane on Atlantic Avenue between Congress Avenue and Northwest 12th Avenue, a second southbound right-turn lane from Congress Avenue onto Atlantic Avenue and a second northbound right-turn lane from Congress Avenue onto Atlantic Avenue.

Especially of concern for commissioners is the turbo lane, which would not require drivers to stop. Many Atlantic High students walk to and from school along that way and the added turbo lane as well as other lanes proposed on Congress Avenue are worrisome for commissioners.

“Our NW/SW community, which is east of 95 and most of those kids go to school west of 95,” Commissioner Bill Bathurst said. “My main concern is the students. The cars don’t stop.”

FDOT project manager Thuc Le said it may be too late to make any changes to the project, which has been in the works since 2014.

Le said the public was involved in meetings about the project in 2016.

But Bathurst said most of the public’s requested ideas were not taken into consideration or integrated into the FDOT plan.

“We have an intersection here, which is probably the most dangerous or at least the second most dangerous intersection in Delray and we are going to make it more so with this,” former city commissioner Jim Chard said. “It’s further separating and bifurcating our city between east and west.”

Construction is estimated to take about a year. The total cost of the entire project is about $5.2 million.