Citizens for a Better Pompano Beach (CBPB) has been a supporter of the idea of applying Complete Street concepts (which include making streets more pedestrian friendly) to redevelopment areas in the city as appropriate. Over time we have viewed the Atlantic Blvd/Dixie Hwy Streetscape Project (Atl/Dix Project) as a good application of these concepts.
But, like our fellow residents, we were dismayed to see the severe traffic issues which the initial cone-installation phase of the Atl/Dix Project caused, especially in its first several days.
Does this mean the Atl/Dix Project is a bad idea after all, and should be nipped in the bud? We investigated – here is our report:
- According to the city, the purpose of the Atl/Dix Project is to create a more pleasant, walkable downtown, to modernize the city’s main entranceway, stimulate redevelopment (which will in turn increase the tax base that will ultimately allow the city to provide more services to the community), and to make the Atl/Dix intersection safer and smoother for pedestrians, bicycles, and vehicles alike. The transportation improvement project at the intersection of Atlantic and Dixie is the first phase of the overall project.
- Safety Issue: the stretch of Atlantic Boulevard from NW 6 St to N Cypress Rd (which includes the Atl/Dix intersection) has about twice as many accidents as other sections of roadways / intersections across the state.
Traffic calming along Atlantic Boulevard is essential to improve this situation.
- Analysis and modeling that was completed during the conceptual design phase indicates that, with the lane reductions, signal coordination, traffic diversion, and traffic calming measures implemented along Atlantic Boulevard and Dixie Highway, minimal impact is projected on travel both eastbound and westbound.
- Thus, we believe that the ultimate implementation of the Atl/Dix project will enable Atlantic Blvd to continue to serve effectively as a conduit for vehicles passing through as well as to become part of a more walkable and safer intersection at Dixie Hwy.
But then, why all this initial traffic congestion?
- The installation of the cones was the essential first step necessary for the maintenance of traffic during construction. But that installation should have been accompanied from the beginning by substantial predictable modifications to traffic signalization.
- Certainly, more tweaking to traffic signalization would have been required after the cone installation; but most of the major signalization problems could have been minimized or avoided if the expected necessary signalization changes had been implemented at the same time as the cone installation.
- This was a major, unforced error by the city which resulted in massive frustration and loss of productivity by residents caught in traffic jams in the Atlantic/Dixie area during the first several days following the cone installation.
- An urgent effort to improve the traffic signalization began within a few days of the cone placements, and the system is continuing to be fine-tuned.
- As a result of this, traffic flow is already greatly improved, and there is reason to believe that the project goals of walkability, safety, and good traffic flow may all yet be achievable as planned.
We urge residents to distinguish between the Progress in Pompano! project concept and the first phase of construction which brought the cone debacle. The anger and frustration felt by residents in the initial days of the cones was entirely justified and understandable.
The cliché says that one doesn’t get a second chance to make a first impression. But, with so much riding on the success of our ability to create a walkable, enjoyable downtown, CBPB encourages patience.
It’s clear that city leadership, the Atl/Dix project design team and the community all agree that the current Atl/Dix traffic situation is unacceptable. Improvements are already taking place, and there are more to come to improve the current traffic congestion.
In light of all this, CBPB recommends that this time we give the city a second chance to make a good first impression.
Citizens for a Better Pompano Beach is working hard to keep our city moving in the right direction! We appreciate any and all donations from like-minded citizens who wish to help!