The Town Council approved up to $363,875 on Tuesday for a consultant to look for ways to ease traffic and parking headaches on the island.
The Corradino Group, the Miami-based traffic engineering consultant, will be paid $330,795 to do the study. The additional amount approved by the council includes a 10 percent contingency, which is standard town policy.
The Corradino Group will evaluate the supply of public and privately owned parking in the downtown area, determine the origin and destination of daily traffic in and out of the downtown and review the traffic impact of the restaurants in the area, according to the Planning, Zoning and Building Department.
The study is scheduled to begin this month and reach completion in September.
“We will collect data, do analysis and figure out where you have real traffic and parking issues,” said Joe Corradino, principal of The Corradino Group.
Corradino will make recommendations to improve traffic or parking circumstances, beginning with lower-impact policy and management changes, then progressing toward operational or structural changes, he said.
“We will start with the least intrusive and less costly,” he said.
Council President Margaret Zeidman recently said improving the flow of traffic on the island is the council’s top priority for 2023. Traffic congestion on town streets, and on the streets leading out of town, has become a big headache for everyone, she said.
“The council is well aware of the constant frustration this causes our residents, and it is taking a proactive stance,” Zeidman said.
Councilman Ted Cooney, who dissented in the 4-1 decision to approve the study, said he has reservations about traffic studies. The town has previously hired consultants to conduct traffic and parking studies that resulted in proposals that “no reasonable person or resident would find acceptable,” Cooney said.
There’s only so much that can be done to alleviate traffic or parking problems, he said. “There are certain limitations. We are a skinny, narrow island that is built out.”
Corradino responded, “You certainly won’t be the first to think that traffic engineering is alchemy. But we’re certainly going to do our best.”
Zeidman said she’s heard the observation that the town authorized two traffic studies in the past that “just sit on a shelf.” But she said she doesn’t think that is a fair characterization.
“Things have changed,” Zeidman said. “This study needs to get done. This is a new era.”
The council’s Business and Administrative Committee, made up of Lew Crampton, who chairs it, and Bobbie Lindsay, has studied the traffic and parking problem for two years and recommended possible solutions for the full council to consider. Those include converting free but time-limited parking spaces to paid spaces to encourage faster turnover; expanded use of the ParkMobile phone app to pay for parking; allowing residents to pay in advance for a parking sticker or placard for their vehicles; providing a parking discount for residents; valet operations for Worth Avenue and possibly elsewhere in town; and introducing a shuttle service for employees of restaurants and hotels to be transported on and off the island.
Another idea suggested by the committee – construction of a parking garage – is not included in the study as currently outlined. But the council could authorize Corradino to study the garage concept later, Zeidman said. Before that happens, she said the town needs a full inventory of the existing parking spaces and to know where the vacancies are.
Police Chief Nicholas Caristo said the town is talking to the U.S. Coast Guard, which manages the drawbridge openings over the Intracoastal Waterway, about reducing or halting bridge openings during the peak weekday traffic periods of 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
He said altering the bridge opening schedule to accommodate vehicular traffic requires a lengthy review process, but it has been accomplished by the Town of Davie.
“That would help us out tremendously,” Caristo said.
Last year, the council hired The Corradino Group and another consultant, Cincinnati-based Zone Co., to lead the town through a review of its zoning code with an eye toward updating it while addressing development pressures. That review is ongoing and will enter a new phase on Feb. 27-March 1 when the consultants host a public workshop and hold a series of meetings with groups and individuals in town to gather public opinion about zoning code reform.
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