Hollywood leaders envision State Road A1A — which ushers traffic north and south through the beachside community — as a place where motorists, pedestrians and bikers can coexist.
With narrow sidewalks, speeding cars and undersized bike lanes, the current conditions favor motorists, Hollywood Community Redevelopment Agency Director Jorge Camejo said.
So Camejo recently presented a plan to make the busy thoroughfare more pedestrian- and biker-friendly and more aesthetically pleasing by reducing the number of lanes, adding a bike path, putting utilities underground and widening the sidewalks from Hollywood Boulevard to Sheridan Street.
But not all residents were happy with the plans, with some saying the new configuration with fewer lanes will cause gridlock on an already clogged street.
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“Traffic and parking is already a problem,” said resident John Saporita, who said that people who live on the island know there are certain times nobody wants to drive because of traffic. “Reducing the number of lanes will only make it worse.”
Plans to upgrade and update the aging corridor have been on the table for years, said Camejo, who said he has been working with the Florida Department of Transportation to see what can be done to improve the street. The changes would also include rerouting portions of Surf Road to alleviate congestion on A1A.
The challenge has been the amount of public right-of-way the CRA has to work with.
“We’ve got 20 pounds of stuff and we only have a five-pound bag,” Camejo said. “If there was a way to fit everything in, we would do it.”
The CRA has hired Kimley-Horn and Associates to conduct a traffic study to see how fewer lanes would affect traffic flow.
There are two options the CRA is considering: first, with three lanes, one in either direction and a third lane to be used for turning in either direction, and the second with four lanes, two in either direction.
Neither seemed to have much impact on traffic flow, Camejo said. But some residents disagree, saying the new pattern would impact deliveries, evacuation and emergencies.
“I think there are areas that can be improved, but I don’t think this is going to do it,” resident Nora Natke said. “There are so many other things we could be spending money on.”
The next step would be a trial period during which temporary poles would be installed to see if people like the new set-up. That likely won’t happen for a while, Camejo said, because the CRA is waiting for FDOT to finish a project on A1A and Sheridan. Camejo said the CRA would also have to figure out how to pay the $10 million to $12 million bill.
Some residents say the corridor could use a slow down and it would be worth it to fix the street.
John Passalacqua said he wasn’t sure what the rush was to get through A1A.
“Where are you all rushing to?” Passalacqua said. “We have an ugly corridor. To leave it alone is not an option.”
Looking out the window of his Italian restaurant on busy A1A, Richard Capone said he sees cars fly by all the time.
“Something has to be done,” he said. “It’s dangerous. People go way too fast.”