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Traffic congestion along Oakland Park Blvd. is chronic with solutions few and far between.

A traffic engineer for the Florida Department of Transportation delivered an operational evaluation to Wilton Manors Commissioners during Tuesday’s regular commission meeting. Mark Plass, a 30-year FDOT veteran, gave a presentation on the corridor of Oakland Park Blvd. between Interstate 95 and U.S. 1.

Almost 52,000 vehicles use the heavily congested arterial road each day, Plass said. It is also home to the second most used bus route in Broward County. The No. 72 bus transports 3,233 riders per day. 

There are eight traffic signals along the corridor. Safely and efficiently monitoring and coordinating those signals are vital to traffic flow, Plass said.

“The department is becoming much more active in working with Broward County in how we manage traffic signal controls on this particular corridor,” Plass said. 

The corridor’s average travel time is 7:17. Peak traffic flow is 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. eastbound and 4 to 6:30 p.m. westbound. The majority of crashes occur in the vicinity of Andrews Ave., said Plass.

Having two railroad lines cross the corridor further complicates traffic flow. Plass said FDOT is using optical emitters on traffic signals that communicate with emergency response vehicles, buses and trains. This technology is an important tool for a situation that is unlikely to change anytime soon, Plass said. 

“I fully expect the number of incident responses and timing changes is going to go up over time because we want to leverage our investment in monitoring and we want to get better and better at these sort of things to keep traffic moving as best we can,” Plass said.

Following Plass’s presentation, which was transmitted over his telephone to the virtual Zoom meeting, Mayor Scott Newton acknowledged traffic engineers have a difficult task.

“Until we do something with transportation more than just using cars … I wouldn’t want your job,” Newton told Plass.

Commissioner Gary Resnick peppered Plass with a series of questions ranging from congestion near I-95 to driveways accessing the Publix shopping center.

“Basically I think what you said is yeah traffic sucks on Oakland Park Blvd. and we don’t really have any great ways to make it better,” said Resnick, who proposed adding pull-out lanes for buses near I-95.

Near the end of his presentation, Plass revealed FDOT is conducting a road safety audit on Powerline Road from Sunrise Blvd. north to Oakland Park Blvd. A field team is being assembled and the audit is expected to last two months. The audit, Plass said, is in response to concerns from residents of vehicles traveling at high rates of speed, running red lights and using the bicycle lane. 

“We try to make sure that team that’s in the field is going to reflect as many different perspectives as possible,” Plass said. “We don’t want to be in an echo chamber on this kind of thing.”

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