The Coastal Star

Boca Raton: Downtown work aims to improve pedestrian safety

By Steve Plunkett

The city is spending upwards of $465,000 to improve pedestrian safety downtown.
Projects include installing a low pedestrian fence to keep people from cutting across Palmetto Park Road to get to Mizner Boulevard, putting in-road lights on Palmetto Park west of Southeast Third Avenue, adding a hybrid walk signal that flashes double red lights on Palmetto Park at Southeast Fourth Avenue, installing dedicated lighting to crosswalks, taking away the right-turn lane onto Mizner Boulevard from northbound Federal Highway, and adding a sidewalk and lights to Northwest Second Street between Northwest Second Avenue and Mizner.
“Many of these are already in the works, so unless the direction is to not do some of these, we’re proceeding to do them,” City Manager Leif Ahnell told the Community Redevelopment Agency Dec. 10.
Consultant Jim Sumislaski of Kimley-Horn and Associates told CRA members that 10 crashes involving pedestrians downtown were reported between 2015 and 2017.
“No particular location was repeated. We had one nighttime crash; we had two that actually occurred at dawn,” Sumislaski said. Most of the crashes happened during clear weather.
“There were injuries but thankfully no fatalities,” he said.
The No. 1 concern of residents’ reports to city officials concerning walking downtown was not having enough lighting, followed by speeding vehicles, difficulty using mid-block crossings, jaywalking and the desire for a walkable downtown, Sumislaski said. But the county Transportation Planning Agency considers Boca Raton’s mid-block crossings a good example for others to follow, he added. “They’re safe, they’re well-defined, they provide median refuge, and generally they’re very well-located.”
Sumislaski recommended more public outreach to pedestrians, restricting unsafe movements, minor improvements balanced with traffic calming, and improved lighting and wayfinding.
“I’m excited about moving forward and seeing things happen,” said City Council member Andrea O’Rourke, who chairs the CRA.

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