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The view of Young Circle looking south. An ambitious plan is in the works that would transform Young Circle and make Hollywood the only city in the world with a massive two-way traffic circle.
The view of Young Circle looking south. An ambitious plan is in the works that would transform Young Circle and make Hollywood the only city in the world with a massive two-way traffic circle. (Mike Stocker, Sun Sentinel)

Picture Young Circle, one of the busiest and most confusing gateways in South Florida, going from seven traffic lights to zero by 2025.

Under a plan that would cost up to $20 million to design and build, those seven stop lights would disappear and five roundabouts would take their place.

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An ambitious scheme never tried before, it would make Hollywood the only city in the world with a supersized two-way traffic circle.

Vice Mayor Traci Callari called it a “darn good idea” on Wednesday.

“It doesn’t work, what we have right now,” she said of accident-prone Young Circle. “There has to be a change. We have a problem. We have a problem, and we’re trying to fix it.”

Hollywood has already paid Marlin Engineering and Toole Design Group a total of $300,000 to come up with the redesign. On Wednesday, commissioners agreed to move forward with the second phase at a cost of $500,000.

Next up for Marlin and Toole is proving the design works.

In the end, the owner of the road will make that call. And that’s not Hollywood, but the state Department of Transportation.

“Phase 1 is figuring out if there is a fatal flaw,” said Scott Peterson, district roadway design engineer for DOT. “Phase 2 is prove to me it works.”

Tough odds?

Chon Wong, a DOT planning specialist, told Hollywood commissioners the new design has a one in four chance of working. His colleague Peterson said he gives it a 50-50 chance.

But Ian Lockwood, an engineer with Toole Design who came up with the design, gives it much better odds.

“I give it 100 percent,” he said. “I have no doubt.”

But Commissioner Peter Hernandez has his doubts.

“Some people think we are insane for even considering anything like this,” he said. “There’s nothing like this anywhere else in the world.”

According to Hollywood’s experts, the redesign will ease congestion along Young Circle, one of the city’s most gridlocked entryways, where Federal Highway intersects with Hollywood Boulevard.

Today, traffic flows in one direction around the circle, with more than 50,000 drivers a day negotiating three lanes of traffic and seven stoplights.

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The new plan calls for two-way traffic, with cars in the outer lanes traveling counterclockwise as they do now and cars in the innermost lanes moving in a clockwise direction.

As many as 450 accidents take place each year on the circle, said Marlin Engineering consultant Jeff Weidner.

Game changer for Hollywood

The new design would lead to fewer crashes and reduce congestion at peak hours by 77 percent, Weidner said. It would also increase the average traffic speed from 9 mph to 18 mph.

“People avoid it,” he said. “With the new design, they’ll be able to calmly move through.”

An older strip shopping center on the east side of Young Circle is currently up for sale.

An earlier version of Lockwood’s plan called for the parcel to be split to make room for a roundabout and give drivers heading to and from the beach more direct access to Hollywood Boulevard.

At the time, Hollywood leaders said they envisioned a developer putting up twin towers with a connecting skywalk and a roundabout underneath.

If the new owner agrees, a sixth roundabout could be added on the east side of the circle, Lockwood said.

The overall redesign of Young Circle would not be complete until 2025 and would cost from $15.5 million to $20 million, Lockwood says.

A patchwork of agencies, Hollywood included, would help pay for the design.

“We really believe in this project,” Callari said. “It’s not just a game changer for Hollywood, it’s a game changer for traffic. It’s one more project coming down the pipeline that will put us on the map.”

Susannah Bryan can be reached at [email protected] or 954-356-4554

Young Circle may be getting a makeover. Under the plan, seven stop lights would be replaced with five roundabouts. The lanes would be reconfigured to allow for two-way traffic. Today, traffic flows in one direction around the circle.
Young Circle may be getting a makeover. Under the plan, seven stop lights would be replaced with five roundabouts. The lanes would be reconfigured to allow for two-way traffic. Today, traffic flows in one direction around the circle. (Toole Design Group, courtesy)
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