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Stretch of A1A getting facelift

From the Sun Sentinel:
Stretch of A1A getting facelift

– A storm-battered stretch of State Road A1A is getting a permanent face lift, with amenities that will make it much more inviting for bicyclists and pedestrians.

Work is set to begin this week on $11.8 million project to rebuild the road between Sunrise Boulevard and Northeast 18th Street.

When completed by the end of 2015, it will feature:

• New, clearly marked 4- to 5-foot bike lanes each way.

• A 10- to 17-foot wide beachfront promenade on the east side of the road, with a paver sidewalks on both sides of A1A.

• Extension of the neon-lit wave wall that stretches along A1A south of Sunrise Boulevard.

• Decorative, turtle-friendly pedestrian lights on both sides of the road.

• New signalized crosswalks at Birch State Park, Northeast 15th Court and Northeast 17th Street.

• A new raised landscaped median in front of Birch State Park.

• Median islands and left turn lanes between Northwest 14th Court and 18th streets.

Drivers may face delays during construction as traffic near Northeast 14th Court is shifted from one side of the road to the other. And beachgoers will have to walk a bit further since shortcuts through the eight-block construction zone won’t be allowed.

The road’s transformation was prompted by huge waves generated by Hurricane Sandy in late October 2012. It caused the worst beach erosion in Fort Lauderdale in years. A few weeks later, after more heavy weather, a four-block section of A1A collapsed. The eastern sidewalk and parking spaces disappeared.

The state spent $8.3 million to temporarily keep the road from eroding further. That work was completed in June 2013.

The permanent improvements won’t drastically change A1A’s new traffic configuration of one lane in each direction with a center turn lane between Northeast 14th Court and Northeast 18th Street.

But south of Northeast 14th Court, A1A will become one lane each way to Sunrise Boulevard, where it will widen into the existing turn lanes at the intersection.

City officials see the changes as a way to make the road more walkable and bike-friendly. But some see trouble ahead since the bike lanes are being placed between the travel lanes and parking spaces.

“Bikes have no business next to moving automobiles whose occupants are texting and jabbering on the phone,” said Jonathan Kolbe, of Boca Raton

“Every parked car is a hazard to a bicyclist, who has no warning when someone is about to fling open their door without looking,” agreed Bonnie Gross, of Fort Lauderdale.

In the first phase of construction that will continue through December, parking spaces and the sidewalk on the east side of A1A between Sunrise and Northeast 14th Court will be closed. North of there, they will be closed on the west side to Northeast 18th Street.

Work will occur from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. six days a week. It’s expected to take about a year and 5 months to complete.

The contractor — Russell Engineering — is eligible for a $5,000-a-day bonus for finishing as quickly as 100 days early.

When the road work is finished, trees and plants will be installed in the median and planters will be placed along the east side promenade.

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