More cars than residents in Palm Beach: 5 key takeaways from traffic and parking study (2024)

With the Town Council's recent vote to approve the long-awaited traffic and parking study from The Corradino Group, the town has officially accepted a document that details many of the issues that have contributed to what has become an increasingly challenging situation for many Palm Beach residents.

Here are five key takeaways from The Corradino Group traffic and parking study.

There is a massive influx of cars coming into Palm Beach daily

Palm Beach is flooded by cars daily, with the study reporting an average of 37,003 trips coming into town during weekdays, and an average of 37,927 trips during the weekend. That's more than four times the population of the town, which sits at 9,235.

"We did not have these volumes pre-COVID," Town Council President Bobbie Lindsay said during the panel's June 25 meeting.

The report also details the major attractions bringing visitors to the island. In the study's North District, which spanned from Pine Walk to the island's northern tip, the commercial businesses inside the Breakers, Royal Poinciana Plaza and those north of Royal Poinciana brought the most visitor trips at 6,813 trips. Recreation services, the Breakers' and Palm Beach Country Club's respective golf courses, had 2,410 trips, with the beaches bringing a mere 15 trips. In total, 3,286 trips heading to the island's North District were work-related.

With an average of 2,190 daily visitor trips, commercial businesses also topped the lost for the study's Central District, which spanned from Pine Walk to Southern Boulevard. Beaches followed at 969 trips with private recreational offerings, namely the Everglades Golf Course, sitting at 93 trips. Work-related trips for the Central District totaled at 4,026.

In the study's South District, which spanned from Southern Boulevard to the Enclave of Palm Beach Condominium, beaches were found to be the primary driver of visitor trips, with a total of 3,726 trips. That's followed by the recreation services, the Palm Beach Par-3 Golf Course, at 313 trips. Work-related trips totaled at 1,467.

The study did not include visitor trips to the Mandel Recreation Center, the Seaview Tennis Center or Phipps Ocean Park Tennis Center in its recreation services count.

West Palm Beach is expanding and that will affect Palm Beach

Development in Downtown West Palm Beach is expanding, the report said, detailing 53 developments currently in West Palm Beach. Of those projects, 13 are under review, 25 have been approved and 15 are under construction.

These developments would mean an additional 626 additional cars crossing to and from the town during the morning traffic peak and 852 additional cars during the afternoon peak hours, the report said.

Eric Czerniejewski, traffic engineering division manager for The Corradino Group, said during the Town Council's June 25 meeting that there are a slew of projects that will coming before the City of West Palm Beach Development Services Department. The study reflected projects on West Palm's Citywide Projects Web Viewer as of April 19, he said.

Palm Beach traffic congestion is fueled by specific routes

The town’s roadways are functioning, on average, at a level of service of D, which is allowedunder the comprehensive plan.

However, according to the report, a level of service D is defined as “approaching unstable conditions with increasing congestion.”

It also found that specific routes were problematic.

For example, on average, the intersection of North County Road and Sunset Avenue was given an overall rating of Level of Service A, during its morning and midday traffic peak, and a level of service of B during its afternoon peak.

Yet, the intersection’s eastbound routehas a level of service of E during the morning traffic peak. That means a driver is waitingan averageof a 63.3 seconds, per vehicle, before crossing the intersection. That delay is even worse during the afternoon peak, rising to 82.8 seconds per vehicle for the intersection’s eastbound route, the second longest delay in town.

Additionally, as The Corradino Group Principal Joe Corradino noted during the Town Council's June 25 meeting, wait times are compounding, and increase with each vehicle ahead of the driver in question.

In other words, if the driver is the fifth in line for the aforementioned eastbound route, the driver's wait time wouldn't be 63.3 seconds, but the combined total of all five cars in the queue.

There is excess public parking, but mismanagement leads to localized shortages

According to the report, the parking issues in Midtown's commercial areas are likely caused by local shortages and management failures rather than lack of parking spaces.

The study states that during the study's sampling date, Saturday, March 4, Worth Avenue's on-street parking was filled to capacity. Neighboring off-street parking options, like the Apollo Lot on Hibiscus Avenue, were also close to hitting capacity. However, just a few blocks north on Hibiscus Ave., the report indicates that there was a surplus of parking spots available.

The uneven parking happens because of visitors seeking a parking space close to their destination, and are unaware of other parking options.

This issue is exacerbated during the weekend, as the report found that drivers often park illegally on streets already at their parking capacity, such as the stretch of Cocoanut Row from Peruvian Avenue to Worth Avenue, which the report showed as consistently experiencing a parking occupancy rate of 106%.

While valet services greatly increase convenience and the quality of life for drivers, the report states, it does not add to the town's parking capacity, since valet services are using the same on-street and off-street parking spaces as the public.

Restaurant valet services may need further vetting

While restaurants aren't a main driver of the town's traffic and parking problems, the report notes that slow valet queues have resulted in multi-car lines blocking the flow of traffic. The study cited long queues during peak hours at Meat Market, Echo Palm Beach, Trevini, Pizza Al Fresco, Bice and Club Colette.

The study singled out the 300 block of Peruvian Avenue, where researchers noticed a bottleneck, "due to Renatos, Bice Ristorante and an event being held at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach," an organization which also utilizes valet services for events.

The Corradino Group recommends that the town continue to require that valet parking applications provide information about the route valets will take, anticipated queueing, number of valet operators; and specific details about the private lot and number of spaces used.

It also recommends the town to use the Geographic Information System mapping software to layer the existing approved valet parking locations. The report argues that by doing this, the town can verify the amount of space available in private lots, such as the Apollo lot, which is used by multiple restaurant valet services.

"There's so many restaurants that claim parking spaces, that I don't know that they're actually using it," council member Julie Araskog said, during the June meeting. "So, I think that was a great suggestion."

Diego Diaz Lasa is a journalist at thePalm Beach Daily News, part of the USA TODAY Florida Network. You can reach him atdlasa@pbdailynews.com.

More cars than residents in Palm Beach: 5 key takeaways from traffic and parking study (2024)

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