Earlier today, Broward and Fort Lauderdale officials, All Aboard Florida reps and architects spoke about the upcoming passenger rail service. The original All Aboard plan called for service from Miami to Orlando, but the trains will stop only in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach beginning in 2016.
"As we initiate this new service in South Florida," says Mike Reininger, the president and CEO of All Aboard Florida. "Fort Lauderdale quite literally stands in the center of all of it."
Fort Lauderdale is the second station for which the company has released design plans -- they released Miami's in May. The renderings unveiled today show a modern-looking, $30 million station. Besides having having a glass structure and a waiting area located over the tracks, Reininger promised expediency and availability to multiple coveted Lauderdale locations.
"Our Fort Lauderdale station will serve as a gateway to the city and will be an iconic destination with ready access to places to shop, dine, live and to connect," he said. "We chose this site -- here between NW 2nd street and Broward Blvd. -- because it provides convenient connections to the sun trolley, to the Broward County transit system, to the coming Wave street car, a planned tri-rail station, as well as walkable access to the government center, to major businesses and offices, Las Olas Blvd. and Las Olas Riverfront and other points of interest including museums, historic districts and the Broward Center for the Performing Arts."
The new station will bring nearly 800 jobs to Broward County and it's going to be a cash cow for the city. The state of Florida is set to see $6 billion in economic impact over the next eight years and it'll create more than 10,000 jobs, according to Reininger. This, undoubtably, is something that makes Broward County Mayor Barbara Sharief smile.
"This has been a labor of love," Sharief said. "All Aboard Florida would come to my office with their preliminary plans and they were always willing to take community input and incorporate them into this plan. That's why before you today you see such a practical plan that integrates with our community and provides infrastructure that we need so desperately."
"Imagine a day when tourists from South America who want to see Broward's beaches can fly into Orlando, hop on a train after spending a few days at the theme parks and get off in Downtown Fort Lauderdale," she continued. "Just steps across from the platform to ride a commuter train to get to another one of our great cities."
Both Reininger and Sharief -- as well as Fort Lauderdale mayor Jack Seiler -- mentioned the importance of expediency and having locations available off the rail service that folks will want to get off for and explore. It was even something Bernard Zyscovich, one of the design partners and the leader of Zyscovich Architects harped on.
"Before we actually start thinking about the look of the building -- believe it or not that's not the first thing we do as architects -- we start thinking about what is the passenger experience? What is the community interaction? And one of the things that has come out of this is the fact that we're really focused on making sure that this particular station has phenomenal access and a lot of conveniences and will flow very, very quickly from the point you arrive in the plaza to the point you get on the train. That passenger experience is really fundamental."
"We're imagining this entire space to be a public space," Zyscovich says. "People can come out, they can get over to the bridge to go across to the buses, they can walk over to Himmarshee, they can go to the IMAX, they can go downtown. This becomes the nexus point."
Here are some of the other highlights during today's unveiling:
- The exact pricing structure is still under development, but officials did say tickets will be priced competitively against other modes of transportation that "travel the same corridor."
- Although service between Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach is expected to begin in 2016, the timeframe for service between Miami and Orlando is still unclear, pending environmental studies, but the trip from Miami to Orlando is expected run at three hours, a 25 to 30 percent reduction in current travel times.
- The exact details on amenities provided at the station will be forthcoming, but early plans include "on-board Wi-Fi, dining and entertainment, service offerings to meet a variety of passenger needs, and innovative seating and table configurations."
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