By Brian Biggane

Ever since a pedestrian was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver while crossing State Road A1A near the Barclay condominium in November, South Palm Beach residents have actively pursued new safety measures ranging from crosswalks and caution signs to a reduced speed limit.

Those efforts have paid off, with the Florida Department of Transportation announcing that by April 11 the town speed limit will be reduced from 35 mph to 30 mph. In addition, 12 safety signs will be installed: six “share the road” signs and six signs warning that bicyclists are present.

Most of the new 30-mph speed limit signs were up by the end of March.

Engineer Jonathan Overton, who runs the regional FDOT office out of Pompano Beach, said the changes were directly due to a Jan. 29 workshop attended by a near-capacity crowd at Town Hall.

Residents didn’t get everything they wanted. They told Overton repeatedly that the town needs a crosswalk to help pedestrians better navigate the highway.

Instead, Overton has suggested officials ask the town of Lantana to run a sidewalk from the north end of its public beach to A1A so FDOT could put a crosswalk there, near South

Palm Beach’s southern border. But the resulting crosswalk would be only 800 feet north of a crosswalk that already exists at the intersection of A1A and Ocean Avenue. It would be about a quarter-mile away from where Hatixhe Laiqi, 73, a Barclay resident, was struck and killed Nov. 10 while crossing A1A.

“I’m not sure if we will ask Lantana to do that,” Mayor Bonnie Fischer said, “and even if they agree it’s still a long walk to get there for a lot of our residents.”

Since there is no public beach access in the town, Overton said, there is nowhere on the east side of the road to which he can run a crosswalk. While some residents suggested putting a sidewalk on the east side of A1A, Overton said that would be a detailed project involving the state and Palm Beach County and take a minimum of five years to complete.

On the speed limit change, Overton said driveways at the north end of town are spaced relatively far apart, prompting those drivers heading north to speed up as they leave town. But coming into town from the north the driveways come closer together and traffic on the adjacent sidewalk on the west side of A1A typically picks up.

“So, it was a good idea that those two traffic adjustments could be made,” he said, “the signing and the speed limit.”

Manalapan similarly requested a drop in its speed limit in early 2023, from 35 mph to 25 mph, but it was rejected by FDOT after the state completed a study that didn’t support a lower speed limit there.

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