Traffic lane changes on A1A in Hollywood worsen congestion; one man injured

A 60-year-old man suffered a serious head injury when he was struck by a car on a dangerous and busy stretch of Ocean Drive on Hollywood Beach Friday evening, authorities said.

The man, whose identity was not released by police, was crossing the highway near Cleveland Street about 6 p.m. when he was hit by a car. A Hollywood police spokesman said his condition was not life threatening. The road was closed to traffic while police investigated.

Southbound traffic was blocked for several hours, as vehicles were forced to make U-turns at a roadblock on Ocean Drive. No officers directed traffic at the scene of the accident. An hour after the accident, more emergency vehicles were still trying to make their way down Ocean Drive.

Several months ago, the city removed all the right- and left-hand turn lanes on Ocean Drive (A1A), a move that created new traffic patterns and led to several accidents along the beach. In some cases, vehicles have driven the wrong way in the south and northbound lanes, barreling head-on toward oncoming traffic.

The Miami Herald was unsuccessful in reaching Mayor Josh Levy Friday to ask about the dangerous traffic flow problems.

A police spokesman could not answer questions about the number of accidents and how many people have been injured, but suggested the Herald reach out to the city’s traffic engineering department after the New Year’s holiday.

Traffic on Hollywood Beach has been in gridlock since the opening of the new Margaritaville resort a year ago. Parking, if available, is at a premium. The lack of parking and the gridlock have created hazardous traffic conditions — which have been exacerbated by the recent removal of turn lanes.

On social media, residents and visitors have been venting to city officials for more than a year.

With the removal of the turn lanes, and the onset of the winter season, snowbirds have been arriving to find more traffic woes. The holiday season has wrought backups that at times stretch several miles, as cars wait to make turns into busy Margaritaville and other restaurants and hotels.

Commissioner Debra Case — who represents the beach district — has acknowledged the traffic problems are creating frustration and concern with residents and visitors. She said the city has worked to install signs to warn motorists about the new lane changes.