From Backwater to Thriving City

From Backwater to Thriving City

The “New River Settlement”, as Fort Lauderdale was known prior to the 20th century, started out as a backwater trading outpost populated by a few pioneer families. There were spurts of growth during the 1920s land boom and sputters during the Great Depression, but it was not until after WW II with a US Navy base and Port Everglades that the real growth in population and development of the city began. There has been no looking back since then!

Today the City of Fort Lauderdale is a thriving city, full of life and opportunity.

It is the cultural and economic center of Broward County, a world renowned tourist destination, and its port ranks among the top three cruise ports in the world. Of no surprise, it is the birth place of modern streetcar transit in South Florida – the Wave Streetcar.

The need to invest in transit in downtown Fort Lauderdale first came to light in 2004, and the idea of a streetcar was hatched soon after.  What began as a local downtown Fort Lauderdale streetcar system has morphed into a regional plan for modern transit that will become the driving force of economic development along its route and beyond.

The first phase of the Wave is a planned 2.8 mile streetcar system designed to move people in and around downtown Fort Lauderdale, spanning the New River to connect the hospital and courthouse districts on the south side with the downtown business core and government, education, shopping, recreation and entertainment centers on the north side.  It will serve as a circulator/distributor system, with connections to regional bus and rail systems.

The Wave is more than just a mobility project.

The Wave Streetcar seeks to create a livable community by integrating land use, economic development and transportation while being environmentally sustainable. The fixed rail will anchor high-density development in a way that a bus cannot by providing a permanent infrastructure investment. It will strengthen existing neighborhoods and communities by attracting new residents who in turn will frequent local retail shops, restaurants, and educational, entertainment and cultural facilities.

This fixed transit system will encourage significant private investment, estimated at approximately $4 billion of new development by 2030, with an estimated $70 to $80 million in new tax revenue.  It will create hundreds of engineering and construction related jobs, 40 new permanent streetcar system jobs and new office and retail employment from new development.

The Wave Streetcar also provides environmental benefits such as reduced carbon emissions, reduction in per person utility consumption and a reduction in vehicle miles travelled. The system will also reduce urban sprawl and promote more efficient usage of mass transit opportunities.

The Vehicle Maintenance and Storage Facility (VMSF) will be a state-of-the-art Operations Center being designed to house five streetcar initially, but up to 15 streetcar when the system expands. The Operations Center will be a “Type 4 Essential Facility”, built to withstand hurricanes. The site is also being raised 2 feet to protect it and the streetcars from flooding.

The partnering agencies are committed to the success of this project which will create jobs, encourage private investment, help direct growth to the urban core, connect points of interest, link to regional transit, increase foot traffic and serve as a catalyst to advance a regional transit system.  We encourage you to become part of this vibrant advancement in our community. Contact us to request a presentation to your group and/or to be added to our database to receive project updates as we near construction.