By: David DiPino Contributing Writer
A new half-mile stretch of Seacrest Boulevard between Northeast Second Avenue and George Bush Boulevard is radiantly bright with bike lanes, safer for pedestrians with new sidewalks, and smoother for motorists thanks to a $1.3 million beautification project.
“Data suggests even if people aren’t riding in the bike lanes vehicle traffic slowed down. The green was very jarring at first but most people have come around to it because the bike lanes and narrower streets slow cars down,” Mayor Cary Glickstein said.
A large group of Seacrest and Del Ida residents celebrated the completion of the project at a ribbon cutting with local, city and state officials. Some of the roots for the beautification project ideas took some shape over five years ago when neighbors and friends met in Del Ida resident Bonnie Altenheim’s living room for coffee and snacks.
“We got together that first night and talked about common goals, our community concerns, ideas to make our homes and our neighborhoods more attractive and above all safe,” Altenheim said.
Over the next five years, Del Ida residents worked closely with the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA) who Altenheim said, “kept us going in the right direction even though our plans were so grandioso,” including the bike lanes.
“The truth is it’s a safety measure and all progressive cities are using vibrant, bright colors for their bike lanes,” Altenheim said.
Bicyclist Jim Chard was the first to ride up and down the new amoeba green bike lanes after the ribbon was cut opening the city’s newest thoroughfare.
“The first thing I noticed riding on the bike path is that I really like the gritty feel. The gritty feel really gives the bicyclist a sense of feel and grip,” Chard said.
Chard, a Delray Beach resident is the former chairman of Human Powered Delray, a non-profit citizen advocacy and education group of Delray Beach residents focused on making the city safer for people walking and bicycling. He was impressed the new bike lanes continue with a safe purpose during the evening hours.
“Little pieces of reflective bead reflect from the bike path at night.”
Brian LaMotte, PE, LEED, AP, Wantman Group, Inc. (WGI) and chief engineer on the project said the new bike lanes consist of epoxy with granular material to make it skid resistant.
Amy Alvarez, senior planner, AICP, for the City of Delray Beach Planning & Zoning, worked on the grant application which jump started the project when it was presented in May 2011. The project was funded by the City of Delray Beach, Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency (CRA), Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) and Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). City officials confirmed the project was completed on time and under budget.
“The most rewarding part is all of the happy residents in the Del-Ida Park Historic District. Second to that, is seeing the increased biking, walking, and running activity within the corridor each morning as I drive in to work,” Alvarez said.
In the end, Alvarez and the city were successful in obtaining three similar grants that will ultimately complete this corridor up (north) to Gulfstream Boulevard.
Susan Ruby, a Del Ida resident and retired City of Delray Beach city attorney with a home on Seacrest Boulevard, said she was impressed with the completion of the project and the way city and CRA worked together with residents.
“As residents we are thrilled with it. The sidewalks are gorgeous and the lighting is fabulous. From my home I can walk safely right into downtown,” Ruby said.
Paul Zacks, a Del Ida resident, and a commissioner with the CRA, said at the ribbon cutting he recently walked down the street at night with his wife and discovered, “We have the best lit, best landscaped street in the entire city right now.”
Valerie Neilson, multimodal manager, Palm Beach MPO, confirmed the new green bike lanes on Seacrest Boulevard in Delray Beach are only the second set constructed so far in Palm Beach County. The 15th Street MPO Green Bike Lane grant project was installed in the City of West Palm Beach and exists between N. Dixie Highway to Australian Avenue. Neilson and her colleague, Franchesca Taylor, MPO Bike-Ped-TDM coordinator, attended the ribbon cutting to support the new beautification project as part of a National Complete Streets Policy Coalition.
“We want to provide areas which are safe to all commuters,” Neilson said.
By: David DiPino Contributing Writer