By Rich Pollack
Responding to safety concerns expressed by town commissioners, Florida Department of Transportation officials have come up with a nearly $200,000 plan to address flooding issues on State Road A1A through Highland Beach.
“It’s a safety issue and our main priority is to ensure the safety of people using A1A,” said Town Commissioner Rhoda Zelniker.
During an April commission meeting, James Poole, FDOT’s district drainage engineer, and Jorge Corrales, FDOT’s district drainage designer, from FDOT’s Fort Lauderdale office, unveiled a plan to alleviate major flooding issues in the town.
The work could begin in several months, probably before the end of the year.
The first remedy residents are likely to see would be maintenance work being done where the roadway meets the swales.
Corrales said that in some areas water can’t drain because the grass roots are higher than the edge of the road, forming what is essentially a grass curb.
Under the proposed plan, maintenance contractors hired by the state would go in and remove grass from the shoulder of the road and dig up grass next to the pavement edge, making it easier for water to flow off the road.
Poole said that before work could begin, crews must look at permits to ensure there are no irrigation systems or other equipment that would be impacted.
In some areas, Corrales and Poole said, crews would have to install concrete flumes through the rights of way and create new swales to absorb water.
Other areas, especially on the west side of A1A, could see sidewalks raised and sand bases installed that could more easily absorb water.
Another solution would be for engineers to install permeable pavement accompanied by underground drainage.
Poole said the total cost of the project would be about $199,424 but that could go higher if design elements are necessary.
“We have a couple of funding strategies in mind,” Poole said.
He and Corrales told town officials a survey had been done to determine where flooding occurred during rainstorms, to identify causes of the drainage issues and suggest possible solutions.
The study identified nine sites in the town where there is flooding on the road and on the sidewalks, 37 sites where there is flooding on the shoulder and 10 sites where there is flooding in driveways.
According to Corrales, existing landscaping along A1A and modifications to driveways along the roadway are among the biggest problems.
He said grass and hedges have elevated root beds that block the swales from absorbing water.
Another problem, he said, is that driveways along the state road slope toward the road, dumping runoff onto the shoulder.
By Rich Pollack