City road shutting down for two weeks to add roundabout

After shutdown, Campus Drive construction will continue for six months as part of $1.3 million project.

Palm Beach State College

A roundabout designed to calm traffic outside Palm Beach State College’s Palm Beach Gardens Campus will force the closure of Campus Drive starting Friday July 23, and continuing until Aug. 6. 

Work on the half-mile length of road, which links PGA Boulevard to RCA Boulevard, will continue for six months after the closure.

The city is spending $1.3 million from developer-paid mobility fees to build the roundabout at the western entrance to the campus and extend the existing right-turn lane at PGA to give cars more stacking space. 

Workers with contractor J.W. Cheatham also will build a seven-foot-wide sidewalk on the now-unadorned east side of the road and replace the existing five-foot sidewalk on the west side with a 12-foot-wide walkway.

The Gardens branch of the Palm Beach County Library and the North County Courthouse are on the west side of the road with Palm Beach State College’s Palm Beach Gardens campus on the east.

Campus Drive
Workers dump sand Thursday July 22 in anticipation of the road construction project that will close Campus Drive for two weeks. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

The strip of road, bereft of curb, gutter and sidewalk on the college side, raised safety concerns because of speeding, said college facilities director Bob Priolo. While students may take some time learning the ins and outs of the roundabout, the main goal is to slow them down. 

Campus Drive
A car drives toward PGA Boulevard on Campus Drive. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

“We think it will calm traffic,” he said, adding “the nice thing is the city has really reached out and engaged the college into (project planning).”

City council members briefed on the plan July 15 reacted enthusiastically.

“Obviously the shared-use path (on the west side) is going to make a huge difference for those students getting off and on buses and going to the library or to the Eissey Theater and back and forth,” Councilmember Chelsea Reed said. “It’s really nice to see it happening.”

How to get around closure

The roundabout will be at Fairchild Avenue and Campus Drive. During construction, drivers can still use Campus Drive from PGA Boulevard to get to the library or courthouse. Entry to the college will be from RCA or PGA boulevards only. Access to city Fire Station No. 2 will be from RCA Boulevard.

The roundabout is modeled after a roundabout installed a few years ago on Shady Lakes Boulevard south of 117th Court North, which took 57 days to build without a closure, City Engineer Todd Engle said. The Campus Drive roundabout will be larger to accommodate fire trucks, he told the council.

But with the road closure this roundabout will be completed in two weeks, he said. After that, the intersection will reopen but construction will continue on Campus Drive for six months.

The project is the first of many to be financed by the city’s mobility fee, Engle said. 

The fee, however, is the subject of a lawsuit filed May 18 by Palm Beach County, which insists the flow of millions paid by developers belongs to the county, not the city. The city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit is scheduled for a hearing before Palm Beach County Circuit Judge Paige Gillman on Aug. 17.

Kyoto Gardens/FPL update

FPL office project
Barricades block a lane of Kyoto Gardens Drive east of Alternate A1A and the sidewalk is being replaced as part of Florida Power & Light’s office project. (Joel Engelhardt photo)
FPL site
The old sidewalk along Kyoto Gardens Drive east of Military Trail is gone, to be replaced by a 12-foot-wide sidewalk. (Joel Engelhardt photo)

The work comes as construction crews rip up the sidewalk and rebuild lanes on the south side of Kyoto Gardens Drive between Military Trail and RCA Center Drive, a job promised by Florida Power & Light, which is building a mammoth office building on the site. FPL is replacing the five-foot sidewalk with a 12-foot sidewalk and is moving RCA Center Drive about 80 yards west to allow a stoplight to go there in the future, plans approved by the city council say.

The city plans to contribute at least $229,000 toward a $1.1 million job mostly paid for with federal grants to install a five-foot bike path and an 8-foot walkway on the north side of Kyoto Gardens Drive. But that construction is not slated to start until July 2023.

© 2021 Joel Engelhardt. All rights reserved.

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Author: Joel Engelhardt

Joel Engelhardt is an award-winning newspaper reporter and editor based in Palm Beach Gardens. He spent more than 40 years in the newspaper business, including 28 years at The Palm Beach Post. As a reporter, he covered countywide growth, the 2000 election and the birth of Cityplace in West Palm Beach. As an editor, he oversaw probes into the opioid scourge, private prisons, police-involved shootings and more. For seven years, he worked on the paper’s editorial board. Joel left The Post in December 2020. He and his wife, Donna, have lived together in Palm Beach Gardens since 1992.

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