In the interest of full disclosure, I am a member of the board of Wilton Manors Main Street. I personally believe that the Take Back the Drive Initiative is a sound one, and that there are some difficulties with it but the benefits greatly outweigh following the plan. The plan should be considered an Endowment or an Annuity - you pay in to the plan and get back a profit assuming that the City is able to follow the plan as presented. It is my belief that the plan can be paid off in the first year and will fund all expenses that will come from the City's ownership of Wilton Drive and all the improvements that we would make to it in the future.
You can take that as an Executive Summary as for the most part the City as presented at the Town Meeting had agreed. The following are the notes that I had take in the meeting. I will do my best to present them as stated, however you will see that from my personal standpoint, what presented is in alignment with my beliefs on the matter.
Take Back the Drive Initiative as presented by Dave Archecki.
In 2006 the City went to FDOT to try to take back Wilton Drive.
Ft Lauderdale and Oakland Park did not want their portions back. Ft Lauderdale would assume part responsibility for the bridge at the South end of the Drive and Oakland Park would assume responsibility for part of the bridge on Dixie Highway and the portion of Dixie Highway from the Bridge up to Oakland Park Boulevard.
In 2008 there was a traffic study that was received by FDOT warranting that Wilton Manors should take back the Drive as there is no reason why the State needed Wilton Drive on the roster of State Roads. The statement was made in the presentation that since FDOT was interested in moving people and vehicles, this road did not particularly make sense of being a State Road as it did not particularly go "anywhere" and that it was in the middle of a Central Business District.
From 2007 to 2009 Ft Lauderdale and Oakland Park consulted and stalled the process by dragging their feet. While this happened, FDOT put crosswalks in on Wilton Drive. The reason that the crosswalks were placed in front of City Hall instead of where they were originally promised was that supposedly the intersection was offset enough that having one at the South End at Tropics Bar at NE 20th St and at NE 21st Street at the Liquor Store would not meet the State's Standards for maintaining traffic flow and visibility. At NE 6th Avenue the City put in a crosswalk which now upgrades this to four way crosswalk.
Here is a handy map from Google Maps so that you can follow along if you want to consult it. Those who wanted lights and crosswalks at the above intersections are acutely aware where they should have been, the rest of us may struggle with the specifics... I always have a better time of it when I have a map handy!
In January 2009 the speed limit on Wilton Drive was dropped to 30mph. It had used to have been at 35mph. At that time, the beginning of this current discussion of the Take Back the Drive Initiative had begun and was rejected due to cost. The discussion was brought back to the City by Wilton Manors Main Street to reinitiate this.
Currently, FDOT said this week that they are willing to listen.
The components of the Take Back the Drive Initiative are a plan that occurs in Four Phases:
Phase 1 is to stripe the Drive with paint according to DOT Regulations allowing approximately 115 new spaces and unlit crosswalk. The quoted price of $168,000 by the presenter was incorrect, and did not reflect the quote from the painting contractor that was brought in by an RFP for $139,000.
Phase 2 would cost upwards of $2.4 Million to $4.4 Million with the addition of trees and drainage. The comment was made that any time that you make changes to drainage, the price goes up. As Phase 2 does not happen immediately, the costs would be amortized over the life span of the current plan of the Drive which is expected to be 15 years. Also, the costs for Phase 3 are included in this estimate - this pushes the amount much higher however the presentation adjusts for this at the closing.
Phase 3 add hardscape to well define the crosswalks and medians, it would also maintain bike lane. No estimate was given on this Phase's cost but most of the costs listed on phase 2 are included here.
Phase 4 adds a tree canopy which is currently prohibited by County ordinance. There was no estimate on costs given. In order to return the Drive to a tree covered state that was enjoyed before FDOT removed the canopy that was there in the 1980's, the City must reclaim the Drive. "Once the Drive is ours, we can do with it what we want, but none of this can be made permanent until we own the drive".
The Parking that was proposed would be a back in parking. This adds safety by allowing the parking car to stop traffic behind them, and back in. It also allows the added safety of when you exit and enter the car, you are herded back toward the sidewalks by your car doors. When you leave the parking space, you have much higher visibility because you are not looking through a mirror to depart.
The expected life of the plan is 15 years.
The annual cost is $36,000 for resurfacing of the roads as needed.
The annual cost for lighting and maintenance of lighting is $8,000.
Bridge maintenance would cost $30,000.
Annual cost for drainage and sidewalk maintenance is $7,500
The total Profit is approximately $81,000 per year.
The expected flow of traffic of people who used to be on the Drive was to flow to NE 15th Avenue and NE 20th St as well as other major arterials such as NE 26th St, Andrews Ave, Federal Highway, and Dixie Highway.
The sources of funding for the project are expected to be from:
Local bus taxes
as well as other future funding sources.
The conclusion of the presentation was that:
Wilton Manors Main Street has done a diligent job of looking at other areas.
Wilton Manors Main Street's Initiative has been analyzed by the City's consultant, Chen and Associates, and the finances and the plan has been shown to be financially accurate and sound.
Wilton Manors Main Street looked at how parking will fund plan.
Wilton Manors Main Street is looking to reevaluate once phase one is in effect.