Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Turnpike Exchange at Oakland Park Blvd.

A resident posed a question on why we can't have a turnpike interchange at Oakland Park Blvd. That discussion has been going on for over 12 years, and no resolution has been found. It is both an issue of great concern to Lauderhill, and a really important question. Why isn't there an interchange there?

Back in the early 1990's monies were allocated by the State and County to study an interchange. At the time there was no interest to proceed, and ultimately the study was never completed.

A few years ago, interest renewed itself on looking at an interchange again, initiating in Lauderdale Lakes. This was in conjunction with the plans to widen the turnpike and adding noise walls. The City of Lauderhill supported such a study, but had several concerns. Primarily the concerns had to deal with traffic flow on Oakland Park Blvd. With numerous traffic lights from State Road 7 to Inverrary Blvd., it was hard to figure how the directing of traffic onto these streets without redesigning the traffic lights on Oakland Park Blvd., would be possible.

The Turnpike Authority did develop a computer design showing how it could manage this traffic. The problem was that the design was fatally flawed, and provided assumptions that would not be possible. My favorite one was the removal of the Inverrary Waterfall. With this failure, the Turnpike Authority was sent back to review this matter with the request of only a partial interchange.

Their original design was to put another traffic light on top of the bridge over the turnpike to provide a full interchange. This would have only made the situation on Oakland Park much worse. Their answer was that since the traffic was so bad anyhow, adding to it wouldn't make much more of a difference. The partial interchange idea would have allowed Sun-Pass entry onto the Turnpike, but only from specific directions.

The problem was, and remains to this day, is that the Turnpike Authority has only shown interest in building a full exchange, not a partial exchange, which could be implemented. The other problem, redesigning the lights along Oakland Park from State Road 7 to the Turnpike has never materialized. The City of Lauderdale Lakes, where this problem exists, has never initiated any progress to resolve. Without the internal interest and dedication of its resources to initiate such changes in their city, little will be produced towards implementing a solution.

The Lauderhill side of the equation is at two points. First is the misalignment of Rock Island Road and 55th Avenue. This we had tried to fix, but since the solution involves a taking of private property, to which the property owner is not interested in, this has led us to a dead end. The other is the removal of the pedestrian walk over. The city has proposed to its removal and realignment to the 55th Avenue traffic light, and this may occur.

Therefore, until the Turnpike Authority returns with a better design to the problem, willing to accept half a loaf, and the City of Lauderdale Lakes pushes to remove several of the lights on Oakland Park, which would require the construction of service lanes, not much will happen in the near future towards an intersection.

This is not to say that there are those that would like to get this accomplished, including the author. However, it would take an extraordinary act of cooperation and compromise to see this through. The City of Lauderhill, on several occasions has supported such movement, only to find a lack of willing partners to proceed.


Anonymous said...

I used to live at Stonebridge Gardens on 55th near Oakland Park and still own interst in a unit there. Take private property for an interchange? PLEASE DO! We'll sell for a fair price. We're paying our mortgage while living elsewhere but many cannot do this and are losing their homes to banks in addition to having lost their furniture and personal property. The complex is a lost cause at this point. Let's put it to a good use for something practical.

eLauderhill said...

The private property the article referenced isn't Stonebridge, its on the north side of Oakland Park. To run the street through the shopping center there. Alternately, to run it where the electrical lines are on the south side, but FPL will not bury those.

As to Stonebridge Gardens, it is possible a developer could buy out the complex, but that would be a difficult proposition due to Florida Statutes affecting condominiums. If there is interest in this possibility, let me know. It would have to be purchased to virtually use the land only. I have thought about some ideas to see what can be done. We can't let this situation continue forever, and I know the residents would want resolution as well.

Anonymous said...

What does it mean "the owner is not
interested in selling the property"?
I believe we have something called
Eminent Domain!

eLauderhill said...

The City of Lauderhill, especially considering the atmosphere surrounding its use, does whatever it can to avoid Eminent Domain proceedings. Also, in this case, it would have significantly damaged the property owners redevelopment efforts (as well as Lauderhill's in other ways), and would have been extraordinarily expensive. As the proposal was discussed, it would have also required a trade in land, to which 2 other governmental agency own, making it all but impossible without voluntary cooperation.

Kelly said...

As the newly reelected Chairman of MPOAC perhaps you can somehow overcome Lauderdale Lakes obstacles that have prevented a Turnpike interchange at Oakland.

An interchange with a large waterfall & stature of Gleason would certainly put Lauderhill on the map and be big boom to local businesses & property values.

Florida turnpike today has 6 lanes feeding the Sunrise Interchange; the 6 lanes are to be widened to 10 lanes. Feeder roads (56 Ave, 47 Ave, 441, etc) in Lauderhill may go from gridlock to lock down. Predictable traffic nightmares could be avoided by providing a desperately needed new interchange at Oakland, like or similar to Turnpike's desired plan.
....................Ref. Sun-Sentinel "Turnpike Turmoil" article posted below.

Turnpike turmoil ahead for Broward County drivers

$496 million improvement plan expected to last for seven years By Michael Turnbell Transportation Writer 2/5/06,0,7660094.story?coll=sfla-home-headlines

Jose Gonzalez's commute on Florida's Turnpike rarely involves the words "traffic jam" as he zips from his Boca Raton home to his medical practice in Miami.

Beginning Monday, it will become part of every turnpike driver's daily language as construction starts on the southbound lanes from Atlantic Boulevard to Griffin Road.

It's the first phase of a $496 million plan to widen 26 miles of the turnpike through Broward County by 2013.

In the next few weeks, drivers will see workers clearing brush and filling ditches to get the ground ready for sound walls. One of three southbound lanes will be closed overnight as workers place concrete barriers to squeeze traffic into three narrower southbound lanes.

Gonzalez thought he would escape any hassles on the turnpike until he heard that lanes would be restricted at night. "Normally I have no problems. I usually feel for the people who have to travel during the regular working hours," Gonzalez said.

Plans call for the turnpike to become eight lanes -- four in each direction -- between the Homestead Extension and the Palm Beach County line.

Ten lanes will be built from Griffin Road to south of I-595 and from north of I-595 to Sunrise Boulevard, including an extra lane on the outside to ease traffic getting on and off the highway. The stretch near I-595 is already four lanes in each direction.

Northbound turnpike drivers between Griffin and Atlantic will get a reprieve from the widening until 2008 because gas lines along the east side of the turnpike must be relocated first.

If you think the side streets will be any better, think again.

Drivers who use streets that cross the turnpike like Griffin Road, Orange Drive, Peters Road, Broward Boulevard, Sunrise Boulevard, Commercial Boulevard, State Road 7 and Lyons Road will feel the misery as turnpike bridges are replaced or widened.

Turnpike officials say additional lanes are needed because the once-rural turnpike has turned into a commuter highway.

Along Broward's busiest stretch of the turnpike in Broward south of Sunrise Boulevard, traffic has soared from 58,500 cars and trucks a day in 1990 to 107,100 a day in 2004, up 83 percent.

Since 1999, an additional 30,000 vehicles now use the same stretch of road.

One of the turnpike's biggest snarls -- the Cypress Creek toll plaza -- will see a huge improvement starting in 2008 when express lanes are built to replace the traffic-choking SunPass tollbooths that straddle the middle of the plaza.

Instead of tapping on the brakes, SunPass drivers will be able to barrel through the toll plaza at 65 mph while drivers paying cash are herded into lanes separated by a concrete barrier at the side of the road.

"We're trying to do as much as we can as quickly as we can," said turnpike spokeswoman Sonyha Rodriguez Miller. "We don't want to make people wait that much longer for sound walls or for those much needed extra lanes."

Chris Verna of Boca Raton said drivers are probably in for a shock if it's anything like Palm Beach County motorists endured several years ago when the turnpike was widened to six lanes between Glades Road and Atlantic Avenue.

That bottleneck, he said, has shifted farther north where workers are widening the turnpike between Delray Beach and the Lantana toll plaza. "There are going to be a lot of unhappy people down here," Verna said.

Drivers in Broward have been immune to the major construction that's plagued I-95 or the turnpike in Palm Beach County since 2000.

Broward's last narrow stretch of the turnpike was widened to six lanes in 1993. The final curtain call on 61/2 years of construction to widen I-95 through Broward ended in 1995.

Florida Highway Patrol Lt. Roger Reyes said troopers will be watching for speeders and aggressive drivers in construction areas.

A driver who goes 30 mph over the speed limit faces a $307.50 fine. In a construction zone, that fine zooms to $557.50.

"People need to keep in mind that there will be workers present. They all have families, too," Reyes said.

By Monday, fliers explaining the upcoming projects should land in the mailboxes of 22,000 residents who live within a quarter mile of the turnpike from south of Griffin Road to north of Atlantic Boulevard.

For residents who've grown tired to sleeping to the tune of trucks rumbling by their homes, noise walls will be built to din the noise from a wider turnpike. The majority of the walls planned along the southbound lanes from Atlantic to Griffin should be built in 15 months.

"The noise is so bad now. It's gotten even worse after the hurricane," said Jennifer Lee Hansen, who formed a coalition that persuaded the turnpike two years ago to change its rules for noise walls so more homeowners could benefit.

"We did get the noise walls, but we're not happy where they're being placed or how high they will be," she said. "For people who don't know what's going on, I think this project will be a huge wake up call when it starts."

answer-man said...

ps I'm having a little trouble sending comments so if I do it twice please excuse me and I apologize.