City seeks help to ease im­pend­ing traf­fic surge

Sun­rise wants high­way ramp built by mall, arena

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - LOCAL - By Su­san­nah Bryan Staff writer

SUN­RISE — Sun­rise is run­ning into a road­block as it plans to trans­form the area sur­round­ing the county’s hockey arena into an en­ter­tain­ment mecca.

“We are fac­ing a tsunami of traf­fic,” Mayor Mike Ryan said. “We need im­prove­ments.”

Traf­fic is bad now and will only get worse if the cor­ri­dor sur­round­ing Saw­grass Mills mall goes for­ward with more than $1 bil­lion in high-den­sity de­vel­op­ment plans— in­clud­ing a casino, ho­tel and condo tow­ers, Sun­rise of­fi­cials say.

They are try­ing to con­vince a re­luc­tant state gov­ern­ment to build a full Saw­grass Ex­press­way in­ter­change at Pat Salerno Drive, the main road­way lead­ing to and from the BB&T Cen­ter. Right now, com­muters can only ac­cess Pat Salerno Drive fromthe south.

Build­ing the ramp would cost $53.3 mil­lion but would bring in only $6.8 mil­lion in tolls over a 30-year pe­riod, said Chad Huff, spokesman for Florida’s Turn­pike En­ter­prise. Aside from the $46.5 mil­lion short­fall, state trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials say the pro­posed ramp would not dra­mat­i­cally im­prove traf­fic flow and vi­o­lates the stan­dard 2-mile sep­a­ra­tion be­tween exit ramps.

Ryan says Turn­pike En­ter­prise of­fi­cials ar---

en’t tak­ing into ac­count Saw­grass Mills mall, which at­tracts 25 mil­lion vis­i­tors a year, or the mam­moth de­vel­op­ments that are on the way, in­clud­ing Metrop­ica and Westerra.

Metrop­ica calls for 2,250 res­i­den­tial units, a ho­tel, 400,000-square feet of re­tail and 650,000 square feet of of­fice space. Westerra’s de­vel­oper plans to build 1,750 res­i­den­tial units, 1.2 mil­lion square feet of of­fice space and 285,000 square feet of com­mer­cial space.

Sun­rise of­fi­cials have been meet­ing with Gov. Rick Scott and are plan­ning to push their idea to top trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials in March. County of­fi­cials and cor­po­rate lead­ers plan to at­tend aswell, Ryan said.

“This is a no-brainer,” City Man­ager Richard Sala­mon said. “We don’t know why they’re so en­trenched against it. It’s crit­i­cal for the mall, the arena, the busi­nesses and the res­i­dents.”

Louis Feuer, chair of the

Greater Sun­rise Cham­ber of Commerce, is well aware of the traf­fic jams at the arena, which plays host to more than 100 events a year.

“I was at the Bar­bra Streisand show a cou­ple months ago,” he said. “It took me half an hour to get home that night and I live a block and a half away.”

Feuer says he’s seen some driv­ers make a Uturn on Pat Salerno Drive as soon as they re­al­ize they can’t head north.

Ryan said state trans­porta­tion of­fi­cials made a mis­take when they built Pat Salerno Drive back in 1998.

The county arena, which at­tracts an es­ti­mated 1 mil­lion vis­i­tors a year, opened that same year. Pat Salerno Drive was built on the north side of the arena link­ing to the Saw­grass Ex­press­way with­out ac­cess to or from the north.

“All you have to do is at­tend a big event [at the arena] in the fall or win­ter,” Ryan said. “And when ev­ery­one leaves to head north it be­comes a bot­tle­neck on Flamingo Road and Oak­land Park Boule­vard. The fans who come out there to events should not have to snake their way through the road­ways.”

The state plans to widen the Saw­grass Ex­press­way and add ex­press lanes south of Sun­rise Boule­vard and north of At­lantic Boule­vard. Con­struc­tion would be­gin in 2020. Costs and project dead­lines are still be­ing de­ter­mined, Huff said.

Sun­rise of­fi­cials are hop­ing the state will in­cor­po­rate their pro­posal for new ramps at Pat Salerno Drive – no mat­ter the cost.

“We won’t have this op­por­tu­nity again for 20 or 30 years ifwe don’t do it now,” Ryan said.

“We won’t have this op­por­tu­nity again for 20 or 30 years if we don’t do it now.” Mike Ryan, Sun­rise mayor

JIM RASSOL/STAFF PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

State of­fi­cials are push­ing back Sun­rise’s re­quest to build a full Saw­grass Ex­press­way in­ter­change at Pat Salerno Drive, say­ing the ramp won’t im­prove traf­fic flow.

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