BY KEVIN THOMPSON | PALM BEACH POST STAFF WRITER | JULY 31, 2016
LAKE WORTH — It wasn’t until a string of motorist deaths and injuries on State Road 80 did state transportation officials began installing guardrails near Belle Glade.
Lake Worth doesn’t want to wait until someone is killed or seriously injured in the Royal Poinciana and Tropical Ridge neighborhoods before tackling what could potentially become a dangerous issue.
Since this past year, the Lake Worth Rotary Club and the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency have been installing red reflective panels on stop sign posts at dangerous intersections to make the signs more visible. Many of them are old or obscured by trees and bushes.
The BriteSide Safer Road Program, the nonprofit that makes the panels, said sign visibility is increased 40 percent during the day and 100 percent at night. The panels have been a part of the nation’s road safety program since 2000.
“This will keep people from blowing through stop signs,” said Nadine Burns, Rotary Club president. “There are a lot of people in Lake Worth who are on foot and who walk everywhere. A lot of families and children live in those neighborhoods.”
Yolanda Vasquez, who lives in Royal Poinciana, said she’s glad the panels are being installed. “I’m excited that the CRA (and Lake Worth Rotary Club) are focusing on safety,” she said. “We are important.”
In late 2014, the Rotary Club approached the CRA about the project, Chris Dabros, the agency’s deputy director, said.
The city didn’t have the time or manpower to take on the project, so the CRA stepped in.
The club was able to get 100 donated panels, which are 8-feet long. The CRA began installing them last year. Dabros said 80 are done. The remaining 20 will be finished by the end of summer.
“It’s a two-man operation and has taken a little longer than expected,” Dabros said. “We try to do it when it’s cooler outside. It’s a hot job.”
Burns said she’s not surprised the project has taken so long to compete. “The city doesn’t have a crew dedicated to this,” she said. “With a city that has an aging infrastructure…putting these panels in is probably an afterthought.”
Dabros said the CRA would like to expand the program downtown and to more neighborhoods east of Dixie Highway.
“This could be one more piece of the puzzle to help alleviate some of the high-speed traffic that happens on neighborhood streets,” Dabros said.