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Island’s two busiest intersections to get extended turn lanes


Bottlenecks at the two busiest intersections on the island could become a just a bad memory for motorists after the Florida Department of Transportation completes planned work at the frequently jammed junctions.

Heavy in-season congestion that requires sitting through several traffic light cycles at A1A and Beachland Boulevard, and A1A and 17th Street, won’t end until at least 2022, when FDOT is slated to start a $4.7 million project to extend turn lanes and make other improvements at the intersections.

Right now, surveys are being conducted by the state to determine how far to extend westbound turn lanes from A1A onto Beachland Boulevard and 17th Street, and northbound turn lanes from Beachland Boulevard and 17th Street onto A1A ,  FDOT project managers said.

Project designs for the intersections are slated for completion by November 2021 with construction to start the following year.

The existing four turn lanes – which are inadequate to handle the current traffic – range in length from 122 feet to 262 feet, FDOT officials said. As part of the project, A1A between Beachland Boulevard and 17th Street will be resurfaced, and existing 4-foot-wide bicycle lanes will be expanded to 7 feet.

It’s still unclear how traffic will be impacted during construction, but FDOT hopes to minimize delays during rush hour, officials said.

“We would typically want to do that at night, if it’s not in a residential area, or we would try to avoid peak hours like in the morning or the afternoon to close a lane,” FDOT project manager Anson Sonnett said of potential lane closures. “We’ll try to minimize every disruption that we can.”

Upgrades to the two busy intersections have been a priority since at least 2017 for the Indian River County Metropolitan Planning Organization, a legislative agency responsible for transportation planning in the urbanized area of Indian River County. The board has the power to develop, adopt plans and set priorities for improvements to the county’s transportation system. The MPO consists of 12 voting members representing local governments within the county.

Better late than never, Vero Beach Vice Mayor Laura Moss said of the upcoming project. Moss has been pushing for extended northbound turn lanes onto A1A from Beachland Boulevard and 17th Street for several years. Moss, a member of the MPO, hopes the long-awaited improvements will prevent crashes and bottlenecks.

“While I’m happy that they’re working on it, my concern is that I would like it to be in time to prevent a problem to someone in terms of someone being harmed,” Moss said. “I’d like it to be preventative.”

The intersection of A1A and Beachland Boulevard has experienced 28 crashes with five injuries since 2015. The intersection of A1A and 17th Street has seen nine crashes with one injury during the same time period, according to city statistics. There have been no fatalities at either intersection.

Before work on the intersections begins, FDOT is slated to start a $5.6 million project on A1A between Tides Road north of Jaycee Park to Coco Plum Lane near Wabasso Beach this summer. The project will include road resurfacing, stoplight and drainage improvements, new signage, pavement markings and the addition of 7-foot-wide bike lanes.

The project will take between one two years to complete, certainly affecting traffic during winter months when seasonal residents and tourists flock to the area causing congestion on the two-lane road. The agency plans to use flag men to keep traffic moving smoothly when portions of the road are closed for work.