Lyons road crane

LYONS ROAD NIGHTMARE: Closed Road, Danger, Palm Beach County Doing Nothing For Months

Boca Raton Delray Beach Florida News Palm Beach County

COUNTY OFFICIAL: “IF IT LOOKS LIKE WE HAVE NO ONE OUT THERE, YOU’RE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.”

Accidents. Backups. Delays. But Road Workers Are Rarely Seen.

Lyons road crane
Grass is growing under a crane left on Lyons Road more than six months ago. Palm Beach County finally discussed the project with BocaNewsNow.com Friday morning. Traffic remains snarled between Clint Moore and Atlantic in West Delray Beach. (BocaNewsNow.com).

BY: ANDREW COLTON | Editor and Publisher

UPDATED 12:55 p.m. Saturday, August 27, 2022, with additional clarification from Palm Beach County.

UPDATE: This article was updated at 7:34 a.m. based on new details provided by Palm Beach County which responded to our requests for information minutes after this article was first published at 7 a.m. Friday.

DELRAY BEACH, FL (BocaNewsNow.com) (Copyright © 2022 MetroDesk Media, LLC) — Palm Beach County’s Department of Highways is under fire from thousands of homeowners and residents who rely on a stretch of Lyons Road between Clint Moore Road and Atlantic Avenue in West Delray Beach. The road was shifted and reduced to a narrow one-lane corridor in each direction six months ago — even though the complete project began in January of 2021. Workers seemingly abandoned the project in early summer, leaving barriers and restrictions in place. There is now grass growing under the cranes planted on Lyons Road in March.

“Everyone who says we haven’t been working on the project is absolutely correct,” said Palm Beach County Deputy County Engineer Joanne Keller early Friday morning. She responded to BocaNewsNow.com just minutes after a first version of this article appeared questioning why Palm Beach County officials were not responding to our ongoing requests for information.

“We had to redesign the plans,” said Keller. “That redesign is almost done.”

According to Keller, the $9.8M project — set to expand Lyons Road to two lanes in each direction — was set to move forward in March and be complete by the end of 2022. But for reasons that Keller says are unclear, major utility lines that conflicted with proposed pipes for drainage — under Lyons Road — were never identified. Once the contractor broke ground and realized the lines were there, the project stopped. Many homeowners and motorists who use Lyons say it appears to have been dormant for six months.

A crash on Lyons Road on June 17, 2022. At least one contractor hoped it would lead Palm Beach County to finish an ongoing project on the road leading to dangerous traffic conditions. It didn’t. (BocaNewsNow.com).

It’s unclear who is responsible for the utility line identification problem. Palm Beach County says it’s investigating. Sources connected to one of the contractors utilized by Palm Beach County for the project, however, told BocaNewsNow.com that Palm Beach County has mismanaged the project from the beginning.

“There’s been a complete lack of direction from Palm Beach County. No one is supervising this job. There was a crash over the summer that we thought would finally get the County to pay attention, but it didn’t. We are frustrated, too. We’d like to get our part done.”

Keller says there is a full-time inspector assigned to oversee the project who is “onsite every weekday to check for deficiencies as well as maintenance of traffic devices.”

Faux lanes on Lyons Road are leading to head-on crash fears as scattered construction and other vehicles line shoulders. Apparatus is on the road, but workers are rarely seen. (BocaNewsNow.com).

The stretch of Lyons Road has seen its use grow exponentially since G.L. Homes first broke ground on “The Bridges.” Since then, the G.L. Communities of Seven Bridges, Boca Bridges, and Lotus took what many considered to be a secondary road and turned it into a major corridor used by what some estimate to be between 8,000 and 10,000 cars a day. Also on the road: Divine Savior Academy, Mizner Country Club, a new shopping and restaurant center at Lyons and Atlantic, and access to a stretch of Atlantic that leads directly to the Florida Turnpike.

This bulldozer has been sitting by a pile of dirt and gravel for so long, grass ha started to grow on the pile. (BocaNewsNow.com).

Shawn Ellen, president of the homeowners association at “The Bridges,” said his community has had enough. He organized a town hall meeting that is set for Monday to discuss the issue. As of Friday morning, many of the Palm Beach County officials who have dodged BocaNewsNow.com’s calls are slated to appear. Among them, County Engineer David Ricks, Motasem Al-Turk who is Palm Beach County’s Director of Traffic, a G.L. Homes representative, and Palm Beach County Commissioner Maria Sachs. While only open to residents of The Bridges, Ellen told BocaNewsNow.com that his community is working on a Zoom-like option so anyone interested can attend. An HOA representative of neighboring “Seven Bridges” declined to comment on the matter or the meeting.

Homeowners and motorists who use the corridor say the project is an example of poor planning and poor management. The road was “beautified” by G.L. Homes in 2018 as the company printed and published marketing material for Seven Bridges, Lotus, and Boca Bridges.

“Why are they ripping it up now?” asked a homeowner. “It looks like they landscaped the road just for video and photos, but never told anyone buying homes here that a multi-year construction project was just around the corner.”

But Joanne Keller, the Deputy County Engineer, said it’s unfortunate Florida law that created the problem. She said developers, like G.L. Homes but not only G.L. Homes, are only required to pay a portion of future road improvements before homes are built. There once was a requirement that builders completely fund future road needs before communities are constructed, but that’s no longer the case.

“We struggle with every development and any developer,” said Keller. “Ten years ago there was a requirement that road improvements (be funded) before houses were built.”

In the case of Lyons Road, G.L. did exactly what it was supposed to do when it broke ground on the Bridges more than a decade ago. But when Boca Bridges, Seven Bridges, and Lotus were built, G.L. Homes was no longer required to pre-pay and pre-plan the impact the communities would cause on Lyons Road.

“It’s a harrowing drive now,” said a motorist who uses Lyons every day. “You have two lanes quickly merging into one with no place for cars to go, you have drivers exiting major communities all fighting for road space, and you have heavy equipment lining the roads, just sitting there. But you have no workers. It makes no sense.”

Keller said she hopes construction to resume soon on the project, but has no guesstimate as to when it might be completed.

BocaNewsNow.com will publish a “live link” for the Monday afternoon meeting if a remote viewing option is provided.

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