DATE: March 19, 2013
MEDIA CONTACT: Kimberly Maroe
Public Information Manager
Broward County Board of County Commissioners
The public commute in and around Fort Lauderdale will soon include a modern electric streetcar that will operate in part via overhead electrical wires in some areas and by battery power in others. The so-called “The Wave” modern streetcar has been given unanimous approval by the Broward County Commission, setting in motion financial agreements and partnerships that will make electric streetcar transportation a reality in the downtown Fort Lauderdale area by 2016. The County’s portion, which funds operating and maintenance costs, is $2.5 million annually beginning in 2016.
“This is a gigantic step in public transportation for Broward County. This project will move our County into the next dimension of convenient, accessible and desirable commuter services. It also brings with it amazing economic development opportunities which will empower us to expand and move forward in a new and bold way,” said Broward County Mayor Kristin Jacobs, a longtime outspoken advocate for progressive public transportation. “When the federal government starts handing out dollars, particularly when it comes to rail, they are not only looking at ridership. They are looking at the economic development that occurs along the corridor. This is, indeed, a very first step of a longer vision and beyond that.”
Initially, "The Wave" will travel a 1.4 mile loop around inner downtown Fort Lauderdale. The next step, dependent on federal financing, will expand the route to 2.7 miles, encompassing Sistrunk Boulevard to the north and 17th Street to the south.
“I have a lot of confidence in our folks in transit and if we're going to be considered in the level of transportation that other cities are, this is a project I can definitely support. I’m also very supportive of us getting into the community to the north of downtown and to areas where more people can really utilize it,” said Commissioner Chip LaMarca.
“In 2004, the die was already cast before the majority of this Board ever got here. The vision is, if you build it they will come and I’m going to believe that, but the only way to make it work is if it is 2.7 miles, not just 1.4 miles,” said Commissioner Lois Wexler.
“It is a step forward, and yes, we have to depend on the federal government for funding for the second phase, but it's something that I think is important as we continue to grow the urban core in downtown Fort Lauderdale. So I’m supportive of it,” said Commissioner Tim Ryan.
The 1.4 mile loop will proceed from the Central Bus Terminal on Broward Boulevard, south down Brickell Avenue, east on Las Olas Boulevard, then south on Southeast Third Avenue, west on Sixth Street, south on Andrews Avenue for one block where it will proceed north on Southeast Third Avenue to begin the loop all over again. A $50 million Federal Transportation Administration grant has been requested to complete the entire 2.7 mile system.
“I believe in mass transit, but I'm concerned if we're going to be putting money into it, and asking the feds for money and then after all of this money has been committed, it ends up being rather than mass transit, a mass failure,” noted Commissioner Sue Gunzburger.
“I don't expect the next phase to be anything less than supporting those riders that are in the system now. As long as I’m here as a Commissioner, I will vote against any expansion that doesn't service the passengers that are utilizing the system now and that it reach into those areas where the need is greatest for transit systems,” noted Commissioner Dale V.C. Holness.
The total cost for building the 2.7 mile "Wave" is approximately $143 million and will come from federal, state and local sources. In the spirit of Broward County Mayor Jacobs’ "Year of the Neighbor," many partners will collaborate on "The Wave" project. Funding partners to build the transportation system include the City of Fort Lauderdale, the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization, the Fort Lauderdale Downtown Development Authority, the South Florida Regional Transportation Authority in coordination with the Federal Transit Administration, and the Florida Department of Transportation. Broward County will be responsible for operational costs once the project is up and running.
See a map of The Wave Streetcar, Attachment 1 under Release Properties, below.