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State agrees to reduce speed limit on A1A in shores to allow wider bike lanes


State transportation officials have agreed to reduce the speed limit along a 2.3-mile stretch of State Road A1A in Indian River Shores to accommodate the 7-foot-wide, buffered bike lanes requested by local residents, cycling enthusiasts and government representatives.

The upgrade will be part of the Florida Department of Transportation’s $7.3 million resurfacing project, which will cover nearly seven miles of the seaside highway from Tides Road (north of Vero Beach’s Jaycee Park) to Coco Plum Lane (near Wabasso Beach).

In an email sent last week to Phil Matson, staff director of the county’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, FDOT Project Manager Donovan Pessoa wrote that the agency’s design team investigated the community’s request and determined “it was appropriate” to reduce the speed limit from 50 mph to 45 mph between John’s Island Drive and Island Club Manor.

Pessoa explained that the characteristics of the two-mile stretch through the town’s northern tier were “consistent” with those of the sections of roadway to its immediate north and south, where the posted speed limit already was 45 mph.

“The change will allow the bike lanes to be signed and marked as a designated bike lane,” he wrote, referring to a recently adopted FDOT policy that prohibits bike lanes from being installed on roads where the speed limit exceeds 45 mph.

The change to FDOT’s plan was revealed only a month after residents, cyclists and local government officials packed a conference room at Vero Beach’s Holiday Inn Oceanfront for a public workshop at which Pessoa presented a revision to the agency’s initial proposal.

The audience applauded most of Pessoa’s presentation, which included removal of most of FDOT’s planned sidewalk along the east side of A1A, but it clearly wasn’t satisfied with the agency’s decision to only widen the roadway’s shoulders instead of installing designated bike lanes.

The gathering, which included State Senator Debbie Mayfield of Vero Beach, questioned FDOT’s reasoning and strongly urged Pessoa to push hard for the 7-foot-wide, buffered bike lanes the agency now prefers.

Cyclists said A1A was the county’s most heavily traveled bike route and warned of the dangers of riding alongside traffic traveling at 50 mph – especially in unmarked bike lanes, even on shoulders widened from 4 feet to 7 feet.

“We can talk to the people at traffic engineering and see what we can do,” Pessoa told the crowd.

Apparently, FDOT got the message, though Pessoa wrote in his email that there were “still steps in the design process that need to take place to make this change official.”

Matson didn’t anticipate any hiccups, saying the agency has become far more receptive to – and willing to act on – community input.