Maybe by boat

by Bernard McCormick Tuesday, July 21, 2015 No Comment(s)

It is mid-summer, and people are complaining about traffic in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Just wait until January. 

Well, some people don’t want to wait. They think they have waited too long to begin complaining about the overbuilding of Fort Lauderdale’s central core that's threatening to make the fine old neighborhoods that distinguish Fort Lauderdale unlivable.

For some people, that happened last season when all those high-density buildings that had been vacant lots with “coming soon” signs suddenly appeared. People living in Victoria Park, the Las Olas Isles, Colee Hammock—just about any of the neighborhoods that made Fort Lauderdale unusual for their convenience to downtown—suddenly found themselves locked in traffic. On some days, a trip that used to take 10 minutes to the airport took half an hour.

City planners and officials are welcoming thousands of new residents and increasing numbers of winter visitors; they seem not to care about the people who have lived in the area for generations. We previously wrote about a prominent real estate family that had lived in Fort Lauderdale since the 1940s but found traffic in the Coral Ridge neighborhood so compressing that they decided to retire in the mountains of Tennessee. These people feel they are being forced out of the city they helped build.

This all broke like an unexpected storm last season, and for the first time people noticed all those vacant lots with “coming soon” signs depicting, for the most part, large buildings yet to come out of the ground, promising only to make the congestion worse in coming years. 

The result: A recent series of meetings of leaders of neighborhood associations in an effort to form a unified protest against more high density development now under consideration on the beach or on the few roads leading to it. The proposed development in the Galleria area is a major target. As one city commissioner put it, belatedly, what good are the new attractions planned for that area if you can’t get to them?

The older neighborhoods are trying to get the attention of city leaders to make them realize that the arteries to the beach, which are about a mile apart, simply can’t sustain the traffic generated by all those people living or working in the neighborhoods between those few roads. 

In the case of the Las Olas Isles—one of the nicest residential sections in Florida—there are days when bumper-to-bumper traffic to and from the beach locks them in their streets. It is good that many have boats, for soon that may be the only way out.

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