Anyone traveling along State Road 7 feels the slog: Thousands of cars, the growing number of crashes blocking traffic, or the unease of walking or biking on such a busy stretch.
But some help to ease that trudge is coming down the road. The Florida Department of Transportation has laid out a heap of improvements to get all traffic — cars, bikes, pedestrians and buses — moving better on the corridor in northern Broward County and southwest Palm Beach County.
Between Sample and Glades roads, a number of intersections are getting additional turn lanes and bicyclists are getting more space on the road.
Technology will be unleashed to improve synchronization of traffic signals and provide drivers with traffic information. While pedestrians will get wider sidewalks and plenty of shade.
Money is being put aside now to implement those changes, which would cost about $18.6 million.
"If they can use technology to speed up traffic and coordinate signals and add turn lanes, that would be a big improvement for us," said Sheri Scarborough, president of the West Boca Community Council.
Residents are increasingly complaining about traffic west of Boca Raton with State Road 7 — also called U.S. 441 — and its intersecting roads among the main culprits, Scarborough said.
"We definitely have problems at Judge Winikoff Road and Marina Boulevard. We've always got accidents there," she said.
Both of those intersections will see improvements. Judge Winikoff will get an eastbound left-turn lane, and Marina gets an exclusive northbound right-turn lane and improved storage for the westbound left-turn lane.
Also, plans call for:
•An eastbound to northbound left-turn lane at Turtle Creek Drive;
•A westbound left-turn lane added at Sandalfoot Boulevard;
•A westbound right-turn lane added at Palmetto Park Road;
•A westbound left-turn lane added at Boca Woods Lane; and
•Increasing the size of the southbound left-turn lane at Glades Road.
To further improve traffic flow, FDOT plans to work with the counties to install a new generation of synchronization that adjusts traffic lights based on real-time traffic conditions. And coordination of the signals will occur across county lines.
A traveler information system also is planned, and there will be a coordinated effort to quickly clear traffic crashes.
Besides improving car traffic, the state DOT wants to make it easier and safer to get around the corridor using alternative transportation.
So, new transit stations for buses are proposed along with more bus service. While the state has set aside for now its original idea of having two bus-only lanes, it's still proposing a bus lane equipped to give buses priority at traffic signals.
In addition, the state plans to pursue bike lanes painted green on State Road 7 combined with a three-foot buffer that will separate the bike lane from vehicle traffic. The "green" is supposed to make the bike lanes more visible to drivers, and the buffer is supposed to make people feel more comfortable riding bikes on the road.
In Palm Beach County, the travel lanes will be narrowed to allow the extra space for bikes. In addition, 10-foot wide sidewalks are planned on both sides of State Road 7 in Broward and on the west side of the road in Palm Beach.
Jerold Axelrod, who lives in a community on State Road 7, was glad to hear that FDOT had no plans to widen the road. But he was skeptical of the some of the improvements, including the extra effort for bike lanes.
"There's very little bike traffic out there to begin with," he said. "You're not going to get very many people out there on 441."
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