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Higher Cost Estimates Could Doom Fort Lauderdale Streetcar

While the 2.8 mile Wave Streetcar project has secured $195 million, proposals for design and construction are coming in higher than expected, which would leave Broward County and Fort Lauderdale responsible for half the extra cost.
January 16, 2018, 11am PST | Irvin Dawid
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Fort Lauderdale
Conceptual rendering.

Broward County commissioners are threatening to derail the streetcar due to the higher than expected costs, reports Larry Barszewski for the Sun Sentinel on Jan. 11. The Florida Department of Transportation is "preparing to seek new proposals to build the system after rejecting the previous bids in November that would have cost close to double what had been budgeted."

Before the state can move forward it must receive authorization from county commissioners, who have had increasing concerns about the project after the previous bids were announced. 

"Right now, I think it’s on shaky ground," said Commissioner Chip LaMarca, a supporter of the project.

According to the project's website, "[t]he project is scheduled to be awarded  a contractor in early 2018. There is a complete funding plan in place which includes an executed Federal TIGER grant and Federal Small Starts Grant." The site lists seven partners, including the city of Fort Lauderdale, the Downtown Development Authority, and the Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Broward County Transit would be responsible for the operations and maintenance, funded by the county, "which could cost up to $6 million a year, adds Barszewski.

Several commissioners see previous support for the Wave drying up in Fort Lauderdale, where all three mayoral candidates in the city’s Jan. 16 elections — and most of the City Commission candidates — have said they oppose the project.

In November 2016, a county transportation sales tax measure with significant funding for the streetcar received majority voter approval, but it was paired with a Broward Metropolitan Planning Organization infrastructure initiative which was rejected, resulting in both measures being defeated due to the agreement between the county and the MPO.

Hat tip to David Daniels, Planetizen reader.
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Published on Thursday, January 11, 2018 in Sun Sentinel
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