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State to hold new hearings on A1A bike lanes, sidewalk Nov. 1


As it turned out, all those emails, phone calls, letters and petitions grabbed the attention of the Florida Department of Transportation, which is reconsidering its plan to construct a sidewalk along the east side of State Road A1A through Indian River Shores as part of a road-resurfacing project.

Project Manager Donovan Pessoa said FDOT also will consider widening the road’s shoulders to accommodate safer bike lanes.

Both matters will be discussed at a pair of public workshops scheduled for Nov. 1 at the Holiday Inn Oceanfront in Vero Beach. Two-hour sessions will be held at 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

“We don’t operate in a vacuum,” Pessoa said. “We received a lot of feedback from the community.”

The year-long project, which also includes traffic-signal and drainage improvements, was scheduled to begin next summer. However, Pessoa said work could be delayed for as much as a year if the plan is significantly changed.

“We’d pretty much have to scrap the original proposal and start over,” Pessoa said.  He said FDOT also might need to reapply for funding for the project, because he can’t simply use the sidewalk money to pay for widening the bike lanes.

“It doesn’t work that way,” Pessoa said. “I can’t just flip the money, because the money comes from different places. If we take away the sidewalk or widen the bike lane, it becomes a different project.”

Last month, the Indian River County Metropolitan Planning Organization’s board passed a resolution requesting that FDOT remove the east-side sidewalk from its $7.5 million plan to resurface a 6.4-mile stretch of A1A from Tides Road (north of Jaycee park) to Coco Plum Lane (near Wabasso Beach).

FDOT automatically includes installing sidewalks as part of routine road-resurfacing project to improve the walkability of Florida’s roadways. However, Indian River Shores residents opposed the east-side sidewalk, citing the need to tear up established landscaping along the right-of-way and disrupting the entrances to communities.

Bermuda Bay Association President Penny King collected 119 petition signatures from her own neighbors, and said she has been able to contact 20 of the town’s 30 communities and “residents are adamantly against” adding a sidewalk on the east side of A1A.

In addition to removing the 6-foot-wide sidewalk from the plan, county and town officials want FDOT to reduce A1A’s speed limit in part of that area from 50 mph to 45 mph and expand the road’s 4-foot-wide shoulders to accommodate wider, safer bike lanes.

“The political reality is that we’re not going to get both the sidewalk and the safer bike lane,” County Commissioner Bob Solari, whose district includes Indian River Shores, said during a commission meeting last month. “Ditch the unneeded sidewalk on the east side and put in a safer bike lane ... This is the way to go for safety.”