This post was written by earl on July 12, 2010
Posted Under: Important Issues for Fort Lauderdale Share
Update on “The Wave”,
Fort Lauderdale’s Light Rail System to nowhere…
Last year I commented on a project that is as wasteful of
taxpayer dollars as it is useless as a transportation system; “The Wave”,
a light rail system dreamed up by property owners of Fort Lauderdale’s
Downtown Development Authority (DDA).
For a history, go to:
http://abetterftlauderdale.com/?p=291 to see my analysis
last year of this project. This group of multi-millionaires have been working
quietly with local politicians (perhaps “greasing some palms”?)
to get government tax dollars to pay for a large part of this 2.7 mile light
rail system in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The project on the surface seems interesting. A light rail
system that would help to project Fort Lauderdale as a forward-thinking City,
with a transportation system to handle future growth. It would be a perfect
way to transport people around a mixed use area of cafes, shops and residential
buildings. But we don’t have that. After my analysis (and a subsequent
meeting I had with DDA executives last year), I’ve learned that this
project is little more than a way for Downtown property owners to increase
the value of their own properties.
That is why the DDA members were willing to put up millions
of dollars for this project. The rail system would go along their properties,
immediately increasing their values. The same concept that you’ve seen
numerous times on the “old west” movies, individuals want the
railroad lines to go where their properties lie. It makes them wealthy.
Now, I don’t have an issue with that as long as the
DDA members pay for all of it, but here are the reasons that I am against
1. The DDA group wants taxpayers (you and me) to pay for
part of the construction costs.
2. The DDA group wants taxpayers to foot the bill for the
operation of it. And if it operated at as loss (as it most assuredly would),
we would be on the hook for millions more, year after year.
3. There is no ridership to warrant the expense. The tracks
form a loop. You have to be on the loop and want to go somewhere on that loop
in order for you to want to ride it. The only people who might consider riding
it would be:
a. downtown businessmen going to business meetings or lunch
b. those people who want to go to Broward General Hospital,
c. those condo owners living in the Flagler area
This is not a large enough group to justify the tens of millions
of taxpayer dollars that would be spent building and maintaining it. The project
is expected to cost almost $130 million dollars or almost $50 Million dollars
4. If it ever gets installed, the rail cars will be one more
thing we’ll have to avoid on the roadways of downtown. Congestion isn’t
bad now, but it will become bad as these mostly empty rail cars compete for
5. It would conflict with plans to establish a north-south
commuter rail system along the existing FEC tracks (I’ll be reporting
on that in the next couple of weeks).
6. Look at the local bus system (and the local trolley that
travels around downtown and along Las Olas Boulevard). Neither has ridership.
What would cause the Wave to have any more riders?.
And now we have this. A Federal Government Watchdog Group,
“Citizens Against Government Waste” is now listing this project
as the second worst pork barrel spending project for transportation this year.
Unfortunately, two of our local politicians : Debbie Wasserman
Schultz (D-Fla.) and Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) are behind the scenes trying
to secure funding for this wasteful project. They should be spending their
resources trying to get the north-south commuter rail project implemented
along the FEC tracks first, before doing favors for the wealthy DDA property
Do you agree that this is a waste of taxpayer money? Then
call them and object to this project! Here are their phone numbers:
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz: (954) 437-3936
Rep. Alcee Hastings: (954) 773-2800