By Bryan Boggiano
During the September 14 meeting, the Coconut Creek City Commission addressed the expansion project of the Florida Turnpike, which aims to widen a 17-mile segment of the highway from Mile Marker 53 (just south of I-595) to Mile Marker 70 (Wiles Road).
Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise, which is part of the Florida Department of Transportation, is currently conducting a development and environmental study to enhance the highway. This study is expected to be completed by early 2024, followed by the design and right-of-way acquisition phases.
A significant feature involves extending the Turnpike from six to ten lanes westward with a 22-foot-high noise-buffering wall. Preliminary plans also suggest eight lanes between Atlantic Boulevard and Copans Road.
City Manager Karen Brooks relayed staff recommendations to avoid an all-or-nothing fight to keep six lanes for FDOT to accommodate other Coconut Creek projects. She said the city would maintain their right to comment on subsequent proposals. Brooks said ten lanes would not be necessary until, at the earliest, 2039.
The city commission was not entirely on board. Commissioners Jeffrey Wasserman and Jackie Railey said their constituents in South Creek and Wynmoor would face significant effects from construction and the completed extension.
According to Wasserman, some side effects include lowered property values, increased noise, soot deposits, and construction-related disturbances.
“I don’t think there’s a more important fight than this one right now,” Railey said.
One resident, Gregory Gayle, said residents already deal with soot, road dust, and restricted backyard use. Since moving to his home in 2013, he installed impact windows and sprayed foam underneath his roof to dilute noise.
“The overall quality of life in South Creek will decrease,” he said.
Vice Mayor Sandy Welch expressed concern over the Turnpike eventually widening to ten lanes beyond Wiles Road and the Sawgrass Expressway, saying residents in surrounding neighborhoods could face what those in Wynmoor, South Creek, and other places are facing now.
Commissioner John Brodie and Mayor Joshua Rydell said compromising on eight lanes could help the city complete various other smaller projects in the long run. Brodie added he believed the city should continue the fight on noise buffers and other mitigation-relation components.
The commission ultimately considered directing the city’s lobbyist, Wilson Atkinson of Tripp Scott, P.A., to send a letter to the Turnpike Enterprise thanking them for considering eight lanes but saying they reserve their rights until they see what a cross-section looks like. The commission would also declare reserving their rights for any future expansion and expansion-related components.
Ultimately, everybody but Wasserman agreed to the letter. He said he would stick to keeping the fight going. But, Wasserman said the fact the Turnpike’s plans went down to eight lanes tells him the highway will likely remain at six.
“People count on us to fight for their best interests,” Wasserman said. “It is in many of our citizens’ best interest for us to continue this fight to the very last second.”
Florida’s Turnpike Enterprise will hold outreach meetings on Wednesday, Sept. 20 (virtual) and Thursday, Sept. 21, at the Chateau Mar Golf Resort in Lauderhill, starting at 6 p.m. Turnpike construction is estimated to be finished by 2029 at the earliest.
- A University of Florida journalism graduate, Bryan plans to pursue geosciences at Florida International University for his master's. He has a strong interest in weather, entertainment, and journalism.
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