There have been various planning studies beginning in the early 1970’s to extend limited access roadways from the Sawgrass Expressway and Florida’s Turnpike to I-95 along the SW 10th Street corridor. The Sawgrass Expressway opened in 1988 but fell three miles short of I-95, forcing vehicles destined for I-95 to utilize the local road networks, including SW 10th Street. Since the original studies, several unsuccessful attempts were made throughout the decades to make this three-mile connection.
The project’s major challenge was placing a high-speed, limited access facility through an existing local roadway corridor adjacent to residential neighborhoods. To that end, the project required strong public engagement. RS&H worked diligently with the surrounding communities to provide a solution by connecting existing limited access facilities from I-95 to the Sawgrass Expressway to improve local traffic and mobility.
Collaborating with the Community
RS&H managed to save significant costs, minimize local traffic impacts, and support the community. Through a focused public engagement campaign and open communications with the community and elected officials, the team was able to provide the stakeholders the necessary information regarding benefits and impacts to help support a preferred alternative that did not include a full depressed limited access facility or depressed egress ramp. The final preferred alternative also avoided negative impacts on surrounding businesses and residential neighborhoods in the area.
A major factor in facilitating public acceptance was the use of innovative planning methods consisting of advanced 3D renderings and fly-throughs that highlighted potential project aesthetics, such as landscaping, noise walls, and textured elements at the overpasses. These visualization techniques were instrumental in allowing the team to convey the proposed dual-use corridor: a four-lane, limited access expressway adjacent to a re-imagined “complete street” SW 10th Street, with noise walls, extensive landscaping, and a dedicated shared-use path connecting neighborhoods and commercial centers.
Through the execution of a series of virtual informational meetings necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, public participation tripled compared to previous in-person meetings. The team worked to utilize the support they were receiving from the public through:
- Social media
- Yard signs in surrounding neighborhoods
- Interactive virtual environments where the community’s voice would be heard
The PD&E study has not always received resounding support from the public or public officials. We worked in partnership with the client to react quickly to concerns and reflect changes in the development of alternatives that helped enhance features such as landscape areas, buffer areas and pedestrian facilities while reducing business impacts, construction disruption and right-of-way impacts.
The project team worked alongside stakeholders and actively listened to and acted upon their concerns and suggestions, holding over 200 stakeholder meetings and four large public meetings. Through listening to the community and working together, RS&H was able to develop connections to the general-purpose lanes of I-95 in the adjacent study section.
The project team was tasked with working on a unique and highly controversial project. The two roadways had vastly different needs and characteristics: one that would serve the purpose of connecting existing limited access facilities and another that would serve the local community.
The project study first began in July 2017 and went through some ups and downs in its progression but focused on the issues at hand that culminated through the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, when the team developed a public outreach plan that proved extremely effective and allowed FDOT to receive Location Design Concept Acceptance (LDCA) on June 21, 2021 – a total of just under four years. A testament to the approach and execution of the team as similar studies had not been successful over the last 40 years!
A Project for the People
Throughout the duration of the project planning process, our emphasis was on benefiting the surrounding communities impacted by the project. Fortunately, despite previous challenges with the project, RS&H successfully worked alongside the public and officials to create both a regional high-speed connector road and a lower-speed local roadway – all within the same right-of-way corridor – that will provide individuals access to local businesses and residential neighborhoods.
With original discussions and ideas spanning back decades ago, making this project finally come to fruition is a tremendous success for both the community of Deerfield Beach, FDOT and RS&H.