The Town of Palm Beach is now in the third year of the second phase of the Accelerated Capital Improvements Program. Nearly 80 percent of the originally identified 20-year plan will be completed by November of this year. One major drainage pump station remains to be rehabilitated, along with 4 intersections that will see new signalization. The Town has decided that once the second phase is completed there will not be a need to be as aggressive as initially planned and the third phase will be implemented through the Town’s normal Capital Improvement Program.
The Town of Palm Beach celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2011. The majority of the Town’s infrastructure was well over 50 years old and significantly past its life expectancy. Until 2009 the Town had repaired and replaced infrastructure based on addressing immediate needs and emergencies as they became apparent. This process is typical in most municipalities. What the Town of Palm Beach initiated in 2009 is what is atypical and in fact unprecedented. The Town Council requested Jim Bowser and Paul Brazil lay out a 20-year plan for Capital Improvements of the Town’s infrastructure. This plan included complete overhaul of several drainage and sewer pumping stations, redirecting and replacing significant sewer force mains, and addressing other infrastructure deficiencies throughout the Town. The 20-year plan would cost over $120,000,000. The Town Council had the foresight to recognize the immediate need for the improvements, and embarked on a program to utilize low interest bond money to implement the Accelerated Capital Improvement Program. The Town made a commitment to the community to make the plan happen.
In 2010 the Town initiated the first phase of the program. At this time the Town anticipated 3 phases of the program with each phase taking 5 years at a cost of approximately $40,000,000. The Phase 1 projects included revamping the entire wastewater collection and pumping system, drainage improvements, street lighting upgrades and traffic signal improvements. Despite the added challenge of working around the Flagler memorial bridge replacement, closed streets and other challenges, a majority of the planned projects were completed within 3 years. At this time, Public Works developed Phase 2 of the program. This included carrying over portions of the Phase 1 projects and expanding the program to include the complete restoration of the Town Hall Square, along with the remaining infrastructure projects.
Under the guidance of Paul Brazil, Director of the Public Works Department, Senior Project Engineer Patricia Strayer and Town Project Engineers Michael Roach, and Jeff Sanon, this program has been aggressively and successfully implemented. Mike Roach and Jeff Sanon were the key resources responsible for implementing and overseeing this work through planning, design and construction, with the intent to harden the infrastructure system, and reduce operations and maintenance costs. Based on Jim Bower’s plan the Town reconfigured the southern half of the sewerage collection system so that it no longer went through Lake Worth on its way to the East Central Regional Water Reclamation Facility, where it is ultimately treated. Sewage now goes through West Palm Beach, and saves the Town $375,000 each year in pumping costs that Lake Worth was charging them.
Phase I was completed successfully, with minimal impacts on the residents. The new state of the art infrastructure has a life expectancy of fifty plus years, virtually eliminating the chance of drainage or sewer pump station failures. Pump stations have been upgraded with new electric pumps and motors with higher operating efficiencies, and all hydraulically driven pumps were replaced. They were no longer supported by the manufacturers, and were a high maintenance item. These improvements have seen a reduction of 75% in operations and maintenance costs. Better backup power systems have been installed to ensure that pumps operate even during power outages, typically when they are needed the most.
Updated traffic signalization is a significant component of Phase 2. A total of 6 intersections will have upgraded mast arms to meet the new wind load requirements and match the Town’s adopted enhanced street light program. The replacement of each traffic light creates significant challenges not only for construction, but for adjoining residents, businesses and especially traffic. Business owners on North County Road this year have seen construction activities throughout the summer. They have faced intersections being blocked and sidewalks being replaced. This is obviously a strain on business. Town Project Engineer Michael Roach said he coordinates directly with the businesses, and that the Town and contractors are “progressing along as quickly as we can.” Roach said the Town discusses concerns with workers on a regular basis and that they’re in the process of minimizing impacts wherever possible. “We’re trying to progress and get through this as quickly as we can.” This phase of the project will be completed before season starts.
By the end of this construction season, November 1, 2016, 80% of the bond work will have been completed, leaving only 20% to be done between now and December of 2018. The Program is expected to be completed one year ahead of schedule.
“We should be very proud of our Public Works Department. They have worked triple time on the Accelerated Capital Improvements Program to accomplish their goals, regular scheduled work and duties, ahead of schedule. Under the leadership of Paul Brazil, we have accomplished many successes and I’m very proud of the entire department and grateful for their dedication and service to our community,” said Town of Palm Beach Mayor Gail Coniglio.
Information about the Program can be accessed via the Town of Palm Beach website under a new “Your Public Works” section. There is a weekly report of traffic changes and road closures each Saturday in the Palm Beach Daily News, and on Twitter @townpalmbeach. Bi-monthly newsletter updates will also be available starting October 1, 2016.
The Town of Palm Beach was incorporated April 17, 1911. Approximately 9,000 citizens make Palm Beach their year-round home, and about 20,000 more have a seasonal home in Palm Beach where they enjoy the winter months. For further information, contact Patricia Strayer, Senior Project Engineer, firstname.lastname@example.org.