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Staff with the city of Ft. Lauderdale have been working with federal officials for the past year to analyze and study traffic issues on Southeast 17th Street and are nearly ready to make its recommendations.
The study’s scope and goals included easing traffic congestion and improving pedestrian and bicyclist safety. Not only is 17th Street one of the central veins of South Florida’s marine industry, it is also the primary access to Fort Lauderdale beach for a county of nearly 2 million people, and it is the main access to the third-busiest cruise ship terminal in the world.
Unlike many traffic corridors where peak hours are during morning and afternoon rush hours, the city noted that 17th Street has peak hours all day. And with visitors walking and riding bikes along the road, it also has been noted as one of the most dangerous in the county. Between 2009-2014, the city of Ft. Lauderdale was No. 2 in the country for pedestrian fatalities with 5.86 per 100,000 residents and fifth in traffic fatalities 16.98 per 100,000 residents, more than any other Florida city in either category.
A key hiccup to a simple solution is that Southeast 17th Street east of U.S. 1 is actually A1A, a federal roadway. Traffic has been studied and analyzed since summer and is nearly complete, with the city prepared to give recommendations to elected officials in January.
Since attention began on the area in late 2014, a few improvements have been made, including moving the security entrance inside Port Everglades to beyond the public access entrance to the convention center; more time on the green lights on 17th Street; giving pedestrians a head start at 10th Street, Cordova Road and Eisenhower Boulevard; acquiring a grant to help pay for upgrades to Cordova Road between 17th and 15th streets; and the beginning of a study to add another on-ramp onto I-595, which will alleviate traffic on US1, which backs traffic up onto 17th Street.
City staff is preparing a list of recommendations for city commissioners that are expected to include a 20-foot-wide shared-use path along 17th Street that is protected from traffic; possible construction of another access road parallel to 17th Street a few streets to the south; special traffic signal timing for special events to help move traffic in or out of the area; enforcement of truck routes off 17th Street and onto Eller Drive; and more wayfinding signs to help people find their way without using 17th Street when possible.
City staff are accepting public comments through Dec. 31 on these and other recommendations. To review the plan and make comments, click here.
— Lucy Chabot Reed