Monday, March 6, 2017

Latest about the Blueway Trail project on the C-51 Canal between the cities of Lake Worth and West Palm Beach.

Below is a re-post from yesterday (Sunday, 3/5) for anyone who may have missed this news. Check back later today for the next installment [UPDATE: awaiting for more information; please check back tomorrow], a much shorter one, about the Blueway Trail Coalition meeting last Friday, March 3rd. And also please take note: I am not an engineer, a scientist, or even a trained journalist.* The information I am providing below, however, I hope you find informative and helpful.

Click on photo to enlarge. Recognize anyone?

The latest Blueway Trail Coalition (BTC) meeting was held at the South Olive Community Center. This was a departure from previous meetings held at the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) headquarters. All BTC meetings are open to the public and an opportunity for public engagement. Other locations may be selected in the future. Stay tuned for further information on this blog.

The group reviewed plans prepared by Taylor Engineering for a boat lift mechanism and portage design concepts at Spillway Park in the City of Lake Worth. The land is owned by SFWMD and maintained by the City. The project would create a bypass of the water control structure (S155 Spillway) to allow boats ≤26′ in length to navigate to and from the Lake Worth Lagoon, aka, the Intracoastal Waterway.

Aerial view of site. One illogical tale about the Blueway Trail was from a Lake Worth commissioner who claimed this project would be like “putting I-95 right there”. The facts have since overtaken the many myths from the City dais.

Below are slides I captured with a camera during the meeting. It’s my understanding the presentation will be available soon on the Blueway Trail website. The big change from previous discussions was the possible integration of a “living shoreline as part of the plan, instead of relying on a traditional canal bulkhead.

Click or hover over the images below to enlarge.

The project study is being funded by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) and is nearing the end of the conceptual design phase. The eventual “end product” will be a permit package to be submitted in June. Here are some conceptual designs:

Above and below are the more refined versions of the conceptual design. The group focused mostly on Alternatives 5 and 6 for discussion. The consensus seemed to be, from my perspective, a combination of the two should be studied by a subcommittee and possibly presented next month.

Concerns included kayak access given the 3:1 slope between the land and water. It was suggested placing a platform midway on the slope might be one way to address this. In both concepts the boat lift would consist of a crane-like device that would slide boats on a beam west-east and east-west bypassing the S-155.

Alternative 6 would include an optional bulkhead: the placement further up the slope and an integration with a pedestrian platform. A hybrid design that will be considered in a few weeks by another subcommittee.

Concerns voiced by a representative of SFWMD was any superstructure for the boat lift, e.g., a roof or covering for the crane/beam, would need to be removable for maintenance purposes and for approaching major storms. However, a roof was seen as an optional element.

There was discussion what would happen to the operation of the facility during times of high water velocity through the S-155 Spillway.† It was thought rather than attempt to install a dissipation device it might be best to close the boat lift facility prior to any possible weather events. SFWMD also said floating docks would not be permitted.

However, SFWMD would allow removal of the invasive vegetation such as Brazilian Pepper along the shoreline and would need to be advised and ultimately permit, or deny, what plants and/or trees would be part of the right-of-way so their crews could maintain the area and keep it safe for the public.

The group also saw the cost summary prepared by Taylor Engineering. Both alternatives were relatively close to one another in terms of cost.

There was also discussion how automated the facility would be, how a user-fee would be incorporated into the operational plan, and what entity would be responsible for the day-to-day operation (personnel, daily maintenance, etc.).

If you made it this far, Thank You for visiting today! And stay tuned for more information tomorrow and throughout the week about last Friday’s BTC meeting.

*For everyone wondering why The Palm Beach Post is not reporting this news, that is anyone’s guess. Draw your own conclusions. The Post is also ignoring this news about research on energy generation using the Gulf Stream Current as well. Both of these projects would benefit our region and many local cities as well, providing a boost for our local economy in Palm Beach County.
FYI: The “Spillway” is an oft-misunderstood term for obvious reasons. Water doesn’t flow or spill over” the the water control devices, the water flows underneath.