Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Fort Lauderdale streetcar gets county OK

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Broward County, Fla., gave its approval Tuesday for a streetcar loop, dubbed "The Wave," to serve Fort Lauderdale.

As per other recent streetcar projects under consideration, including in St. Louis and in Dallas, plans call for streetcar propulsion using overhead wire and an alternate power source. The Wave will tap batteries to cross the Third Avenue Bridge over the New River.

County commissioners unanimously approved the plan, which would result in the first modern Florida streetcar line if construction scheduling holds. 'I think this is a banner day for transit in this county,'' Chris Wren, head of the Downtown Development Authority, told local media. "It's exciting.''

The vote commits the county to operate the system for 20 years.

An $83 million, 1.4-mile loop will be pursued as the first phase of the project, with the loop put into revenue service in 2016. The route runs from the Central Bus Terminal on Broward Boulevard south on Brickell Avenue through the Riverfront complex, then east on Las Olas Boulevard, to Southeast Third Avenue, where it crosses the Third Avenue Bridge. It then runs along Sixth Street to Andrews Avenue.

A second phase would add 1.3 miles to the system. Broward County is seeking federal funding of about $50 million to pursue the expansion. Federal funding of $18 million is committed to the project's first phase, with the state providing $32 million and Fort Lauderdale providing $10.5 million in cash or in-kind contributions. Property owners along the way will be assessed to add $14 million.