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Stalled road work in West Palm Beach is ‘sadly equal opportunity’

Looking south on Washington Road on Sunday, reopened after years of construction.
Jane Musgrave
Looking south on Washington Road on Sunday, reopened after years of construction.

Folks who own multimillion-dollar homes near the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach want those who live in an impoverished historically Black neighborhood near the railroad tracks to know: We feel your pain.

While sympathetic to those who recently learned that unspecified delays in a planned three-year, $22 million project would keep Tamarind Avenue closed for at least another year, residents of the Prospect Park and Southland Park Historic District said they have been dealing with road construction headaches of their own.

READ MORE: Historically Black neighborhood in West Palm Beach will be 'cut off' for another year

“It’s been horrific,” said Nancy Pullum, who watched traffic back up on her once quiet street when crews began ripping up nearby Washington Road in January 2021.

The $5.63 million road, water and drainage project was plagued with myriad problems and complaints, ultimately forcing the city to kick the original contractor off the job.
The road recently reopened. While a small waterfront park remains torn up, it appears the bulk of the work — and years of turmoil for residents — is over.

But, Pullum and other residents bristled at a Tamarind-area business owner’s suggestion — featured in last week’s Stet News — that the long blockade of Tamarind “would never happen in El Cid.”

The Washington Road work is just south of El Cid.

Calling the comment “ill-advised and inaccurate,” Pullum took to Facebook to point out that residents of the adjacent wealthy neighborhood have been inconvenienced by the ongoing work on Washington Road.

“This roadwork mess is, sadly, equal opportunity!” she wrote on the Facebook page for Engage Palm Beach.

Both Pullum and business owners in the Tamarind Avenue neighborhood agree on the reasons the two projects — and others — have taken years longer than planned.

“There’s been a lot of neglect,” said Darren Studstill, a former NFL safety who returned to his home county to open a coworking space in a building his family owns in the Tamarind Avenue neighborhood. “So, when you open it up, you’re going to find a lot of problems that weren’t included in the original scope of work.”

Pullum voiced nearly identical sentiments. “All of it is complicated by the fact that the city hasn’t maintained the water lines for years,” she said. “So, once you dig something up, you find other problems.”

Still, she insisted, everyone in the city is in the same precarious position.

“I just don’t like to see one part of the city pitted against the other,” she said.

This story was originally published by Stet Palm Beach, a WLRN News partner.

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