Pompano Beach

‘The Road to Hell Is Here': Battle Over Pompano Beach Renovation Gridlock Continues

Residents say their already difficult daily commute became a nightmare.

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Backers of a plan to renovate downtown Pompano Beach squared off Tuesday with residents who say they can't live through the traffic the project is causing.

Experts say about 175,000 cars pass every day in front of Pompano Beach City Hall. NBC 6 was the first to report about the shock from residents when the city reduced traffic lanes on busy Atlantic Boulevard, triggering what residents call intentional gridlock by the city.

"Well, the traffic poles showed up. Over one night we woke up — drove up — saw these yellow poles," Pompano Beach resident Gus Gambateste said.

Residents say their already difficult daily commute became a nightmare. NBC 6 showed how the city had reduced the lanes east and westbound on Atlantic and its own studies showed residents were sitting in traffic longer. 

“I am sure all these commissioners have good intentions, but as the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and right now, the road to hell is right here at Atlantic Boulevard and Dixie Highway," Gambateste said.

On Tuesday, Pompano Beach’s Mayor and Commissioners got an update from traffic experts, heard support for a plan to improve downtown from backers, and an earful from those living here.

"I am pro-development but not at the expense of the residents," Allison Fournier said from the podium.

Architect's drawings show one of the projects that would turn the area near City Hall into one with more apartments, offices, restaurants, shopping, and places for walking, biking, and rollerblading.

“You gotta step back for a second and say, why are we doing all this? We are doing all this because we have a growing city," said Tom DiGiorgio Jr., who heads the Pompano Beach Economic Development Council. “Well, it is a tall order, but it's change. It's like anything we do here in South Florida, you gotta start with little baby steps and that’s what we are trying to do here."

“The interconnectivity of the roads, it’s extremely important," said Adam Adache, who is the developer for the Old Town Square project. "Not only important for the area to develop downtown, but it's also important for basically bringing communities together in a safe way."

But some residents ask at what price is this progress.  

“What I would like them to see is to take a pause. This thing is out of control. It got off to a terrible start,” Gambateste said.

The Pompano Beach City planners say they are constantly tweaking the lights and traffic patterns and have cut commutes time since the poles went up. 

“They synchronized the lights, and it did help, but there are still problems backing up westbound," said Sandy King, the spokesperson for the City of Pompano Beach.

King says the project is making improvements already. At one light on Atlantic, you can only make a right turn on both sides of Atlantic. King says that’s helping. 

The residents say drivers are now cutting through residential neighborhoods. Some say that on paper, the development looks good, but they are living with the reality of more unwanted time in their cars.

Pompano Beach and supporters of the project are asking residents to think long-term and how this will benefit them, but that’s a hard pill to swallow when you’re stuck longer on Atlantic than you used to be each day.

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