Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale Leaders Vote in Support of New River Train Tunnel Proposal

The city of Fort Lauderdale voted unanimously in favor of a resolution expressing support for a train tunnel, rather than a bridge, to cross the New River into downtown

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Brightline is not only looking to add more commuter trains and stations to South Florida, but is now in talks with Miami-Dade and Broward counties about a localized commuter train service called the "Coastal Link," said the Florida Department of Transportation.

As a result, the city of Fort Lauderdale voted unanimously Tuesday in favor of a resolution expressing support for a train tunnel, rather than a bridge, to cross the New River into downtown as a method of needed infrastructural improvement necessary to withstand the additional train traffic.

The resolution urged FDOT to eliminate bridges as proposed options for infrastructural improvement at the New River and requested FDOT to reevaluate the feasibility of a tunnel.

“The railroad tracks have been to me a wall between communities for too many generations,” Mayor Dean Trantalis said.

Three out of four of FDOT’s proposed infrastructure improvement plans were bridges, ranging from ground level to 80 feet high.

Many feared a low-level bridge would devastate the boating economy.

“We’d love to see a tunnel. Low build is just not an option,” said Phil Purcell, the CEO of Marine Industries Association. “You can’t add another 50 trains at grade at Broward (Boulevard), and over the (New River), and expect our industry to survive.”

City leaders want a tunnel, but transportation officials want a bigger and taller bridge at the site of an aging bridge in Fort Lauderdale. NBC 6's Ryan Nelson reports

Trantalis says the medium and high bridge options wouldn’t work for the city either and believes the tunnel would help Fort Lauderdale secure its future as a growing and sustainable city.

“By building a tunnel, we have open spaces. We create open space. We don’t have to worry about artwork and historical enhancements that are going to be used to paper up deficiencies that a bridge is going to bring to our communities,” he said.

FDOT says Broward County will take the lead in coming up with a financial plan in the near future for one of the proposed options, which would ultimately be submitted as a federal funding request.

FDOT says the bridge options range in cost from $460-700 million, while a tunnel would cost $1.8 billion.

The city says its experts, including Elon Musk’s company, tab the tunnel at a cost of no more than $1.5 billion.

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