Opposition to Lauderdale streetcar system mounts

The state Department of Transportation will select a contractor that probably would start construction of the Wave by year-end.

May.May 20, 2017 09:25 AM

A streetcar in Kansas City similar to the type planned in Fort Lauderdale

Public opposition to a planned streetcar system in Fort Lauderdale is mounting as the Florida Department of Transportation prepares to start embedding rails in city streets and installing overhead electric wires.

Construction of the streetcar system, called the Wave, would close the Third Avenue bridge over the New River for as long as five months and would close some streets, too. The system’s 2.8-mile loop in downtown Fort Lauderdale would transport passengers from Northeast 6 Avenue to Southeast 17 Street.

City residents are circulating a petition against the Wave, which states that it’s “not too late to stop this terrible mistake.”

The streetcar system could be extended to other destinations including Port Everglades and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

But as a downtown loop, the Wave will do little to improve mass transit in Fort Lauderdale, said Bobbi Ocean, a real estate agent who supports the petition to stop construction of the system.

Some public officials are expressing doubts about the long-planned streetcar system, too.

At a recent workshop meeting of the Fort Lauderdale City Commission, Mayor Jack Seiler said he opposes the installation of overhead electric wires to power the streetcars.

Commissioner Romney Rogers said at the workshop meeting he hopes the Wave system is successful, but he is “getting a lot of pushback” from opponents.

The City of Fort Lauderdale has agreed to pay for part of the $195.3 million cost of building the system but hasn’t yet issued  permits for its construction.

The Florida Department of Transportation will select a general contractor that probably would start construction of the streetcar system by the end of the year, which means the Wave could start operating in 2021. [Sun-Sentinel] Mike Seemuth

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