By Tim O’Meilia

Bowing to the pleas of two dozen nearby residents, Ocean Ridge town commissioners took a stand against the installation of crosswalks at the Woolbright Road and A1A intersection but that opposition may not be enough to stop the project.

The Florida Department of Transportation will wait until next week to receive a letter from the town before a decision on the $44,500 project is made. But a DOT official who attended the May 2 meeting said afterward that the work is likely to resume.

Construction on the three crosswalks was set to begin April 22 but was temporarily halted at the town’s request until after the hastily-called meeting. The DOT has jurisdiction over the intersection and the project can be done despite the town’s objections.

Residents from neighborhoods near the intersection told commissioners that the crosswalk would disrupt their neighborhood, attract more visitors and cause more danger than leaving it unmarked.

“I was voted in to represent the citizens of Ocean Ridge and not the citizens of Boynton Beach,” said Mayor Geoff Pugh. “The safety of the citizens of Ocean Ridge is what I’m concerned with first.”

Pugh and Commissioners Lynn Allison and Gail Adams Aaskov were unhappy with the traffic statistics provided by the DOT and said more in depth examination was needed.

The DOT tallied three crashes involving pedestrians or bicyclists at the intersection from 2009-2011, more than any other intersection in the area. But the numbers did not specify whether the injuries were to walkers or bicyclists.

“This intersection is more dangerous than the intersections north and south of it. We know it’s a dangerous situation. I have to vote for safety,” said Commissioner Ed Brookes, the only commissioner to support the project. Commissioner Zoanne Hennigan was absent.

“My gut reaction is you’re funneling people onto a public road, which isn’t safe either,” said nearby resident Penny Kosinski. Beachway Drive, on the east of the intersection, has no sidewalks and pedestrians headed to the beach must walk in the street.

“We are attempting to put a major league walkway on a T-ball street,” agreed 37-year resident Lisa Allerton. 

Hennigan first proposed asking DOT to study safety issues at the intersection in August 2011, resulting in the crosswalk project.

The DOT has ramped up its efforts in the last three years to protect pedestrians and bicyclists. “This project definitely will make the intersection safer,” said Jonathan Overton, DOT assistant traffic operations engineer, who attended the meeting.

He said safety concerns are paramount. “How many people have to get hurt or killed before we act?” he told the commission. “If the signals don’t go in and someone is hurt or killed, then the question will be ‘Why isn’t there one here.’”

Former mayor Ken Kaleel said signs should be erected directing pedestrians and bicyclists to crosswalks north and south of the intersection. “If it’s so dangerous, why possibly would you promote it?” he said.

Overton said that pedestrians would still try to cross at the intersection rather than try to walk four-tenths of a mile to a crosswalk. “It’s not possible to guide and influence human behavior correctly,” he said. 

Residents Richard DiPietro and Steve Coz said the crosswalks would create a false sense of security.

 “DOT is not interested in waiting much longer on this project,” Overton said.  “There’s a side of the coin not being heard here because they’re not here in the town.”

The vote against the crosswalks came despite the advice of Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi, who said in a memo that pedestrians would be crossing the Woolbright bridge to reach the beach whether town residents liked it or not and that government was obliged to protect them.

“Regardless of how an individual might feel, the concept of NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) cannot govern decisions made in this situation. The benefit to the safety of the public at large should be the primary concern,” he read to the commission.

“I am not interested in creating a memorial crosswalk,” he said.

Resident Julia Walker had another perspective: “If there’s anything you can do to curtail the invasion of Beachway, please do so.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

You need to be a member of The Coastal Star to add comments!

Join The Coastal Star

Comments

  • Your story regarding the A1A crosswalks failed to mention that there was a lone town resident and property owner who spoke strongly in favor of the new crosswalks. The value of the lives of those persons attempting to cross A1A to the public beach access without a safe crosswalk have the same value as the folks that live along Beachway Drive.  Terry Brown

This reply was deleted.

Activity Feed

Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
19 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a photo
20 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
20 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
20 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
20 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
21 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
21 hours ago
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
21 hours ago
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
21 hours ago
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
21 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in MANALAPAN
21 hours ago
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
21 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in ACROSS THE BRIDGE
21 hours ago
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
21 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a blog post
21 hours ago
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
21 hours ago
The Coastal Star posted a blog post
22 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in ACROSS THE BRIDGE
22 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in DELRAY BEACH
22 hours ago
Mary Kate Leming posted a discussion in BOCA RATON
22 hours ago
More…