Streetcars conjure up visions of San Francisco, New Orleans, Uncle Ben's Rice, and that Marlon Brando movie where he pleads for his wife to return to him after he beats her.
But now, it will also conjure up downtown Fort Lauderdale and, also, the future, because the Broward County Commission has unanimously approved an electronic streetcar "of the future" that will run through the downtown Fort Lauderdale area by 2016.
Does "of the future" mean that the streetcars will fly around buildings, like in The Jetsons?
To be fair, "of the future" are our words, mainly because Modern Electronic Streetcar makes us think of future stuff.
Either way, the streetcar, dubbed "The Wave," will operate in part via overhead electrical wires in some areas and by battery power in others. It'll supposedly traveling a 1.4-mile loop around inner downtown Fort Lauderdale.
And depending on federal help, the route will eventually expand to 2.7 miles, encompassing Sistrunk Boulevard to the north and 17th Street to the south.
The total cost for building the 2.7-mile "Wave" is approximately $143 million and will come from federal, state, and local sources.
"This is a gigantic step in public transportation for Broward County," Mayor Kristin Jacobs says. "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."
Jacobs, who is a longtime outspoken advocate for progressive public transportation, says that once federal funding starts rolling in, the financial impact will be felt all over Broward.
"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," she says.
The county's portion, which funds operation and maintenance costs, is $2.5 million annually beginning in 2016.
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.
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