Going round and round


Two cyclists ride on the edge of Floresta Drive, a narrow two-lane road where cars sometimes travel more than 50 miles an hour. Oncoming cars make it dangerous to swing out into the other lane to avoid the bikes. STEVEN COOK

Plans to make Floresta a safer drive moving forward slowly


Steven Cook plays with his kids behind thick hedges in his backyard. The three youngsters are forbidden to go out in the front unless a parent has them by the hand. Their front door is kept securely locked.

Cook, his wife, Christine, and their three children live on Floresta Drive in Port St. Lucie. For anyone familiar with Floresta, its speeding cars, missing sidewalks, flooding and potholes are enough of an explanation for the Cook family’s refusal to allow their children to go into their front yard.

“We see all kinds of vehicles,” he said. “One time I even saw an 18-wheeler.”

Floresta will be more than 60 years old, according to county records, before it gets its first-ever makeover. To put that into perspective, a parent with a family who moved there at age 30 would now be 90 — and could be pushing 100 before it’s finished.

After a heavily attended meeting on Oct. 30, the city council rejected four-laning Floresta in favor of keeping it a two-lane road. But there is no funding in sight for the $25 million project. Still, “we were very, very happy with the outcome of that meeting,” Cook said about the choice to leave the road at two lanes.

Cook is serious about improvements to his street. So much so that he’s become a neighborhood activist and started a Facebook blog, which has more than 65 followers, to keep everyone up to date.

In January, engineers met with residents to learn their reactions to the two-lane plan and let them look closely at plans spread out on long tables and displayed on easels.

In March, a second workshop gave residents the opportunity to inspect tweaks in the plan resulting from comments made during the January workshop.

“It was a very positive town hall meeting,” Cook said. “The city engineer’s theme was to preserve the residential integrity and to have plenty of greenery and trees.”

The Floresta remake starts at Southbend Boulevard and ends at Prima Vista. It includes a median strip, sidewalks, bike lanes and lighting that Cook describes as lantern-like. The street runs through a densely populated area with single-family homes on quarter-acre lots and an elementary school.

Residents told the city council in October that they’d seen cars traveling upwards of 50 miles an hour and that they feared for children walking to and from school, especially where there were no sidewalks.

After seven traffic studies in less than three months, and at the recommendation of Police Chief John Bolduc, the council voted in early January to give Floresta a 35-mile-an-hour speed limit from Prima Vista to Port St. Lucie Boulevard. Previously it had several different speed limits in different areas. Making it consistent would make it safer, Bolduc said.

In March, a car traveling at a high rate of speed crashed and rolled over on Floresta not far from the elementary school. “It was scary,” Cook said.

In an attempt to slow traffic, five new roundabouts are planned. After the January meeting, the consultants made them smaller, reducing the amount of land the city would need to buy from homeowners in the vicinity. Roundabouts will help get rid of some of the traffic as drivers who dislike them will choose other roads, Cook said. Bicycles will be able to use sidewalks to navigate the roundabouts. Sidewalks will be 6 or 8 feet wide to allow for multiple uses.

Frank Knott, city project manager for the Floresta plan, said that when Southbend was slated for a roundabout many residents were unhappy about the prospect of having to learn to navigate one, but after it was installed and they became familiar with it, they changed their minds.

Consultants broke the project design into three major segments, each expected to take 12 to 18 months. Once funding is found, it could take five years to complete reconstruction of all four miles.

Plans vary for the type of median to install, depending on the section of road. Knott said configurations call for a divided median without turn lanes, a divided median with turn lanes, and areas where the road is three lanes — the lane in the middle is a turn lane and replaces a median. Some medians might be concrete or landscaped with grass. The current plan for the section of Floresta Elementary shows no median at all.

People who live on some of the side streets will have to make a U-turn at a median opening to access the roads if they’re on the opposite side of the median. Those streets can be seen on the city’s map of the Floresta Master Plan project on its website.

The city council discussed the plan at its May 14 regular meeting. Proposed changes to the plan arising out of the January and March workshops with residents were described to council members. Video of the May 14 meeting is available on the city’s website. Click government at the top of the home page, then public meeting archives and pick city council meetings.

Tweaks to the Jan. 24 plan

  • Reduced sidewalk width on the east side from 8 to 6 feet
  • Removed the 4-foot green area between the road and sidewalk providing additional area for parking in the driveways
  • Added right turn lane from eastbound PSL to southbound Floresta
  • Lengthen right turn lane from westbound PSL to northbound Floresta
  • Reduced roundabout size
  • Added slip ramps for bicyclists
  • Modified median types in various areas
  • Provided additional turn-arounds (U-turns) at various locations
  • Removed turn-arounds (U-turns) at the Elkcam bridge
  • Reduced impacts to the Thornhill pond
  • Minimized parking at Thornhill Pond

  • Source: Frank Knott, project manager

    For more information

    Floresta blog: https://www.facebook.com/SE-Floresta-Dr-road-project-492420711121036/

    Floresta Master Plan: www.cityofpsl.com In the search box in the middle of the home page type Floresta Master Plan and click go at the right end of the search box.