The Florida Department of Transportation has announced plans to repave a 6-mile stretch of A1A, mostly within Indian River Shores, from the CVS store to SR 510/Wabasso Road, and local bikers are hoping wider bike lanes will be part of the $5.2 million project.
It might surprise some taxpayers that this stretch of road will get new pavement a few years from now, since it seems fairly smooth and in good repair, but Phil Matson, Indian River County’s Metropolitan Transportation Organization staff director, said the DOT uses a technical scale to evaluate pavement’s wear-and-tear and, according to that scale, the busy stretch of A1A is due for re-surfacing.
“The beachside roads . . . wear out,” Matson said.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Bicycle Advisory Committee had a meeting this summer to give residents a chance to discuss the project with DOT representative Alexander Barr and more than a dozen bicyclists showed up to voice their support for wider bike lanes in the project area.
Indian River County is emerging as a place known for good bicycling, and the 6-mile segment of A1A is a popular piece of roadway for local cyclists, who can be seen pedaling in the existing bike lane every morning. On weekends and during the winter season, the bicycling crowd thickens.
Members of Vero Cycling, a local club with more than 300 members, attended the meeting to lobby for widening A1A bike lanes to 7 feet to increase rider safety. They’re about 4 feet wide now.
DOT can widen the bike lane by simply adding more pavement along the outer edge of the lane or by shrinking the width of the car lanes by 2 feet, Barr said. He noted the DOT has done both in past road re-paving projects.
Board members from Bike Walk Indian River County, a local nonprofit group trying to improve bicycling and walking conditions in the county, joined Vero Cycling members at the MPO meeting to express support for wider bike lanes.
“A1A is one of the mostly heavily used roads in the county by people riding bicycles,” said Bike Walk founder Hugh Aaron. “Currently, many people who like to ride bicycles are not comfortable riding in the north A1A bike lanes because they are so narrow there is no separation from motor vehicle traffic, which is often moving along at 45 mph or faster.”
“Having safer, more comfortable bike lanes will be real asset to our community for both residents and visitors,” Aaron added.
Matson hopes the DOT will heed the local bicyclists’ words.
“We’re on their radar screen, so that’s a very good thing,” he said.
Indian River Shores Town Manager Robert Stabe agreed with Matson that bicycling on A1A is one of the top activities in Indian River Shores. He said the DOT work program is scheduled to begin with engineering in 2017.
Construction money will be available in 2019.