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Wave Streetcar gets an unhappy reception

at Croissant Park

By CAL DEAL

 

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL, June 28, 2017 — The Wave Streetcar plan continues to draw hostile questions, generate taxpayer anger, and trigger intense skepticism among doubting citizens, most of whom seem to have given up on the 14-year-old plan.

 

Croissant Park citizens met recently to see a Florida Department of Transportation presentation by Wave Project Manager Robert Bostian. Croissant Park President Pat Rathburn cut the show short so people could get right to their questions. Here are some of the issues raised:

 

• Out of the loop — There was a sense that the neighborhood was not being kept abreast of changes and developments in the Wave project. “You should be running them through the community,” said one resident. The project has changed, but the slide show has not, said President Rathburn.

 

3rd Ave bridge would be closed for five months to upgrade it and convert it for Wave use. The streetcars will go off the electric wires and switch to battery power to traverse the bridge. This changeover may be the system’s Achilles heel. And what happens to the streetcar system when the bridge must be shut down to undergo a months-long overhaul? Andrews Avenue will be shut down for construction 1- to 1-1/2 years BEFORE the bridge shutdown, making for a lengthy period of disruption.

 

• STREETCAR WON’T HELP TRAFFIC!  When a resident wonders about the streetcar’s impact on rush hour traffic, Bostian notes that new traffic signals and some traffic cutoffs will help with traffic flow. But as The Wave’s own web site notes: the streetcar is expected to have “minimal impact” on traffic. In fact, it is likely to impede traffic because the vehicles are slow, and because they would stop to pick up passengers in traffic lanes. (Note: Left turns onto South Andrews will be blocked at 13th and 14th streets.)

 

• ALERT! ALERT! LED lighting would be installed along the Wave route. (There are serious problems with LED light, which can be very harsh. ”Switching from the warm sodium lights to those LEDs was like going from a subtropical sunset to high noon at the equator,” reports Jeff Hecht at http://spectrum.ieee.org. )

 

• “Over 1,000 trees are going to be planted,” FDOT’s Bostian tells the crowd. Trees are one of the “upgrades” that the Wave people tout in order to sell the program. However, their own landscaping plan puts the number of trees at 139, not 1,000. FDOT has been asked to clear that up.

 

UPDATE: FDOT says 160 trees will be installed along the 2.8 mile route — and 35 trees — 22% of the total — will adorn the maintenance facility by the FEC tracks, an out-of-the-way warehousey-type building that would tend to up to 15 streetcars. That leaves one tree for every 118 feet of the Wave’s 2.8-mile route.

 

UPDATE #2: A memo about Wave matters by City Manager Lee Feldman says “approximately 73 new trees” will be installed along the alignment. (Memo #17-0691)

 

• “The streetcar idea seems REALLY old!” Electric streetcars first became popular in the 1880s. The Wave plan was introduced around 2003. In June, China introduced a trackless “Autonomous Rail Transit” system that uses dotted lines to guide "streetcars" on tires. No expensive track, overhead wires, etc. See https://youtu.be/eBdkSb-uR4A

 

How much will the system lose per rider? “I haven’t calculated,” said FDOT’s Bostian.

 

POWER SUBSTATIONS: According to FDOT, “The traction power substations will be housed:

1. Inside the Broward County parking garage on Brickell, between Broward Blvd and SW 2 Street, and

2. At the Vehicle Maintenance Storage Facility on SW 1 Ave by the FEC tracks.

 

CITIZEN CONCERN: Wave construction will force traffic onto SW 4th Avenue, where there are homes and schools.

 

EXASPERATION: Regarding the unsightly overhead wiring that goes with electric streetcars, a woman notes that people have been pushing FPL to put their wires underground, “And then we’re going to do this????” When someone suggested that “you don’t notice the wires,” one unconvinced woman blurted out in disbelief, “Oh, don’t tell me that!”

 

BRIDGE CROSSING:  The streetcars would be held at a station if they heading for the 3rd Avenue bridge when the bridge is about to open.

 

When the confrontation was over, Neighborhood President Rathburn turned to Bostian.

 

“You were very brave,” she said.

 

 

NOTES BY STEVE COOK:

 

There was no support for the Wave, only befuddlement!

 

It was pointed out that when the city and DDA were garnering support for the Wave they never showed the project with overhead power lines, nor the removal of the oak trees in the Andrews Avenue median.

 

Not sure when it changed, but the completion date is now 2021 — moved out another year.

 

The photos they used are old and outdated. Someone asked why they could not find current and relevant information on the Wave website.

 

Someone asked if the bus service would be discontinued, the answer was no but, any bus station that is near the Wave Station will be moved. That would mean the bus stop in front of Broward Health will be relocated. That will be disconcerting to the hospital employees as those buses are used and take you directly to BCT central station the Wave does not.

 

Someone asked if the Wave takes one lane and the bus and delivery trucks take one lane that only leaves one lane for traffic. The person went on to ask how they could do this when Andrews is already overburdened at different times of day like rush-hour.

 

Someone asked it this project can be changed or canceled. The city employee said no. I was told by Commissioner Rogers it cannot be changed, he did not say it cannot be canceled.

Jenni Morejon of the DDA

Mayoral candidate Charlotte Rodstrom

Left, Bostian gives his slide show as Morejon listens. Right, District IV City Commission candidate Ben Sorensen.