Thursday, June 06, 2013

Fort Lauderdale streetcar funding plan OK’d

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Property owners in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fla., will pay a special assessments tax to help pay for implementation of phase one of The Wave, the city's initial streetcar line.

Downtown businesses, organizations, and residents have signaled strong support for the proposed streetcar line, and if built it could be the Sunshine State's first modern streetcar operation, depending on what Miami and/or Miami Beach decide to do or not do.

The assessments tax is designed to generate $20.6 million of the projected $142.6 million cost of construction. The city commission approved the tax and the assessments zone Tuesday, with the decision still to be finalized at a public hearing July 9.

Federal funds totaling $67.7 million have been secured, with $35.7 million to come from the state, $10.5 million from the city itself, and $8.4 million from the Broward (County) Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The downtown assessment zone runs from Sunrise Boulevard to State Road 84, generally between the Florida East Coast right-of-way and U.S. 1. Phase One of The Wave, costing $83 million, would run 1.4 miles and begin operation in 2016. The city hopes to add 1.3 miles to the line after that.

"I can't wait for this thing to happen," Flagler Village resident Phil Bernstein told local media. "One of the things that brought me to Fort Lauderdale was the promise of the Wave."

Plans call for streetcar propulsion using overhead wire and an alternate power source. The Wave will tap the alternate source to cross the Third Avenue Bridge over the New River.