At the Mayor / Commission Work Session on April 30th a presentation made by cities expert Gabe Klein outlined why Downtown West Palm Beach needs a Mobility Plan and detailed the work that the Alta Planning team had done over the last year. Mr. Klein’s presentation is the first hour and is a very interesting watch.

Last night the team at Alta Planning team uploaded the epic 123-page Downtown West Palm Beach Mobility Plan to their website. Click here to view it.

This plan is accompanied by a West Palm Beach Parking Study & Bicycle Master Plan. There is a LOT of reading to do.

“The Downtown West Palm Beach Mobility Plan provides the lens through which future transportation projects should be prioritized and implemented. Going forward, does the transportation network—including physical infrastructure and transportation services— meet the needs of those that live, work, and visit here? Additionally, do they support the anticipated growth, both regionally and locally, while also preserving the quality of life and human dimension of Downtown that makes it unique, accessible, and diverse?

“The Mobility Plan establishes a shared community vision for how people travel that is built on shared, desired outcomes. To realize the vision, the plan outlines specific actions organized into short-, medium-, and long-term stepping stones that will guide the community towards achieving the type of city West Palm Beach wants to be.”

Key recommended projects, programs and policies include:

  • Okeechobee corridor projects such as intersection improvements, improved lighting, mobility/transit hub, improved signal timing, dedicated rapid bus transit lanes, expansion of trolley routes.
  • Added multimodal access including vehicular capacity by providing a Fern Street connection across the SFRTA tracks from Australian Avenue to Flagler Drive.
  • Expansion of bicycle network to safely connect neighborhoods and people to jobs, schools, parks, businesses and the downtown.
  • Incorporation of transportation demand management strategies as a part of future land use planning in order to mitigate future congestion and encourage alternative modes of transportation such as walking, biking, and trolley riding.
  • Restructuring parking strategies to reduce congestion, increase availability and improve overall user experience.
  • Incorporation of new technologies (i.e. autonomous rideshare).
  • Optimization and expansion of trolley and bus services and routes.
  • Adoption and implementation of Vision Zero, a  strategy to eliminate traffic fatalities and sever injuries, while increasing safe, healthy, equitable mobility for all.

Why Walking Matters

Walkability is the foundation of a thriving, competitive Downtown. Commerce and public life take shape and flourish in response to a walkable urban fabric. Walkable streets are inviting places, safe places, accessible places, and comfortable places. Residents and visitors can linger, stroll, and they have direct connections that move them to where they want to go. For Downtown West Palm Beach, this means people can easily and safely cross at intersections and mid-block locations, walk on a shaded, well-connected sidewalk, and enjoy the sidewalk as an extension of public space

Why Bicycling Matters

Bicycling can be a safe, comfortable, and convenient mode of travel, especially in a Downtown setting. A well-connected bikeway network can encourage a mode shift from car to bike, reducing vehicles miles traveled while also providing tangible environment, safety, and health and wellness benefits. Creating a bicyclefriendly environment is also an important part of regional mobility. Establishing first- and last-mile connections to transit via bikeways, especially in areas where access to a personal vehicle is limited, will create mobility options and expand access.

Why Transit Matters

Investing in transit services and amenities allows a downtown, city, and region to grow without compounding vehicular traffic congestion by serving more people in less space. It also provides an affordable transportation option that is accessible to a wide range of ages and abilities.

Why Street Changes Matter

The roadway network is the fundamental framework for moving people through the City. It is the conduit and connector to destinations including jobs, services, shopping, and other cultural activities. Changes to the street network can improve safety for everyone, and improve the predictability and reliability of traveling in Downtown

And much, more

In it’s pages the DWPBMP specifically targets 46 different projects which will move Downtown West Palm Beach towards the above stated goals.

The plans go from creating a new platform at the Brightline Station for the Tri-Rail Coastal Link ($2.5 million) to a new street connecting Fern and Australian ($10 million) to lane reconfiguration of Okeechobee Blvd and one-way to two-way street conversion for Olive and Dixie ($24 milllion). And rejoice, reconfiguration & lane removals of S. Flagler Drive is also in there ($4.6 million).

Budget details over the next 20 years.

Moving forward

“The Downtown West Palm Beach Mobility Plan provides the lens through which future transportation projects—including physical infrastructure and transportation services– should be prioritized and implemented,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “We must always prioritize a transportation network that meets and exceeds the needs of those who live, work and visit here. We must continue to evaluate whether projects support anticipated regional and local growth while also promoting business and preserving the quality of life and human dimension of downtown that make it unique, accessible and diverse.”

The Mobility Plan recommendations will be brought to the City Commission at the May 21st commission meeting for formal adoption.