Young Circle

Young Circle in Hollywood, Fla. covers 10 acres has three lanes and seven stoplights.

With the Interstate 95 leviathan running through our region and the persistent commuter traffic jams, it’s understandable if you feel like the Fredericksburg area is the worst place in the world to drive.

But consider what the people of Hollywood, Fla., have to deal with: Young Circle, something that could have come straight out of Dante’s “Divine Comedy.”

Hollywood, a city in Broward County with about 150,000 residents, is home to a mammoth traffic circle covering 10 acres. Each day, about 50,000 drivers navigate the three lanes and seven (yes, seven) stoplights in this giant circle from hell.

Predictably, Young Circle is widely hated, serving as the “most gridlocked gateway” to the city, where there are up to 450 crashes annually, according to a Sun Sentinel article.

The newspaper recently outlined plans to fix the circle, but the concept has been panned by some as being just as crazy as the current iteration.

The plan would remove the stoplights and replace them with five (yes, five) roundabouts. In case this is confusing, let me repeat: that’s five traffic circles inside the one, giant traffic circle.

Along with adding the interior roundabouts, traffic also would be switched from one way to run in both directions.

The Sun Sentinel said it would be the world’s first giant, two-way traffic circle.

It already seems like a giant pain, with more likely to come.

So next time you’re stuck on I–95, think about Hollywood, Fla. You could be crawling along in a quagmire of a 10-acre traffic circle, which has circles within the circle and clueless drivers trying to find their way out.

Things could be worse.

I–395 express lanes opening

Speaking of the interstate, commuters and regular travelers up north might want to take note that the Interstate 395 express lanes are set to open this weekend.

On Sunday, eight miles of HOV lanes converted to electronically tolled lanes will open, operating with three reversible lanes, toll lane operator Transurban said last week. To use the express lanes, drivers must have an E–ZPass transponder. Buses, motorcycles and vehicles with at least three occupants can use the lanes for free.

The new lanes represent yet another segment added to the express lanes system. There has been one extension on the I–95 express lanes in Stafford County, with another one in the works.

Transurban said the I–395 express lanes opening is expected to impact 100,000 drivers.

The company will release details this week to help drivers learn how to navigate the new layout and what toll prices to expect.

Ready for snow

The Virginia Department of Transportation is prepped for winter.

VDOT announced this week that it is ready for wintry weather, with a $205 million budget aimed at clearing roads across the state during the cold months.

That budget will help pay for more than 2,500 workers and 12,100 trucks, loaders and graders to help clear roads. VDOT also has stockpiled nearly 700,000 tons of salt, sand and abrasives along with 2.4 million gallons of liquid calcium chloride and salt brine.

VDOT also continues to offer its online snowplow tracker tool, which you can use to find out what is happening on a snow-covered road near you.

Scott Shenk: 540/374-5436

sshenk@freelancestar.com

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