Residents Question Fort Lauderdale City Commissioner Dean Trantalis’ Motives

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Commissioner Trantalis, as a homeowner in Middle River Terrace, I'm a bit baffled and somewhat confused as to what's been transpiring in Fort Lauderdale’s District 2 of late. As most people are aware, there's been some contention regarding the planned improvements for Dixie Hwy. Improvements which affect the corridor of Dixie Hwy that stretches from the bridge, South of Five Points in Wilton Manors, straight thru to 13th St. A stretch of road which runs practically through the center of Middle River Terrace's residential community, the community I chose to buy my home in and build a future in. This plan has been plagued by many delays and roadblocks and we're finding ourselves once again having to deal with another roadblock, which is delaying the implementation of this plan even more.

As you know there's been a lot of finger pointing, name calling and over all childish behavior when it comes to these improvements so I'd just like to stick to the facts.

  • When improvements to the infrastructure of this portion of Dixie Hwy were first pursued by the MRTNA they requested a master plan with the following wish list of elements to be incorporated into the design :   "Pedestrian Safety", "Safe and Calming traffic devices", "Shared Use Path" or "Bike Lanes" and some "Beautification of Dixie Hwy", possibly using sustainable products or native plants / trees / bioswales. The MRTNA then went forward for approval with a plan which included a shared use path.
    • The city of Fort Lauderdale did a survey and the Metropolitan Planning Organization ( MPO ) conducted a study of the roadway to see if this plan would  fall into the guidelines of the "Complete Streets" program. However, before even reaching half way through the proposed section of roadway, and already finding 29 points of contention, the MPO determined that a "Shared Use Path" was not a plan which should be implemented in this instance. The plan was deemed dangerous to pedestrians and cyclists and the MPO will not support or fund the plan.
      • With that the MPO, the City Transportation and Mobility Dept and the Broward School Safety Department reviewed the current plan of record, referred to as "The Bike Lane Concept", which received approval and support from all three agencies as well as two of the main cycling clubs from Fort Lauderdale. As you know this plan was developed using the guidelines from the "Complete Streets" program. A program you're aware of which has been accepted and embraced by Broward County. Not only does the MPO approve and support this plan but they've already put aside $2.3 million for it's implementation. As the rendering shows the plan will provide the residents of Middle River Terrace and those who use this corridor of Dixie Hwy with the following:
        • The $2.3 million of funding currently in place from the MPO will cover:
        • The remaining missing sidewalks along the West side of Dixie Hwy and new sidewalks along the East side of Dixie Hwy. Both of which will have handicap accessibility.

          Well defined 4ft. wide bike lanes in both the North and South bound lanes, including having them painted Green.

          Reduced Traffic lanes from 12ft to 10ft as per the guidelines of the "Complete Street" Program.

          Drainage.

          Bioswales.

          • Two NCIP grants will cover the following :
          • Two beautiful entrance monuments with river stones, landscaping, lighting and additional beautification.

            Architect renderings.

            • Transportation and Mobility has funds in place for :
            • Two crosswalks

              Technical drawings.

              • The remaining funding will be easily obtained thru additional grant monies once the plan of record is approved by the City Commission, those funds will cover  :
              • Traffic calming ( Raised traffic tables at major intersections / One Traffic Circle ).

                Additional pedestrian cross walks.

                As I understand the process is meant to work is as follows. When changes such as these are requested by a community they're required to come up with a Master Plan. Once the Master plan is created and approved by all interested parties ( MPO, Transportation and Mobility ), the plan then has to be brought forward by the commissioner of that district, in this case that would be you, to the City Commission for their approval before funding could be pursued to develop and execute the plan.

                Commissioner Trantalis, here's where my confusion comes in. There are processes which we all must follow and I believe my community has done what is expected of them.

                • As I stated previously, the residents of MRTNA have complied with the requirement to have a Master Plan for the infrastructure updates created.
                •  The community voted on and passed the plan, with a majority vote, back in Oct of 2012. Also, in the meeting held by the city at ArtServe, to educate the residents about the plan, there were 100 attendees of which more than 95% were in favor of the plan.
                • Not only has our community embraced this plan but we've also received overwhelming support from the MPO, Transportation and Mobility, as well as from the Broward School Safety Dept.
                • Have our district Commissioner bring the plan forward to the City Commission for a vote. This Commissioner Trantalis is not happening and we need to understand why.
                • As you're aware the MPO is so supportive of this plan that they've already allocated funding to the tune of $2.3 million to have it executed and that's even before it's been approved by the City Commission. MRTNA has submitted multiple requests to you asking that you and the city move forward with putting this on the City Commissions agenda so it can be voted on and passed in hopes that we can move forward with it's execution. Yet Commissioner Trantalis here my community sits, still waiting for this plan to be brought forward to be voted on by the City Commission.

                  It seems this time we're up against a roadblock of your own making. Instead of moving forward with much needed improvements for my community you are now requiring that the plan be fully funded before having the City Commission vote on it. Your claim now seems to be that you do not want to move forward with the plan without having the traffic calming devices already funded because you feel it would be too dangerous otherwise, that goes against what all the experts have told us. Regardless of the fact that we already have $2.3 million in funding from the MPO for this plan. Regardless of the fact that the MPO has stated numerous times that they are ready and willing to pursue other grants to complete the funding but will not be able to do so until the plan is approved by the City Commission.

                  So Commissioner Trantalis the much needed improvements for the MRT corridor of Dixie Hwy sits and waits as you bring other plans forward to the City Commission for funding approval, plans which do not have Master Plans in place, such as the revitalization of 13th St. AS important as it may be to revitalize the short 6 block span of 13th St for local businesses, our community is just as important if not more so than the business district because these are the people who live and work in our community. These are the people who have to deal with unsafe conditions on a daily bases.

                  In closing, my questions to you are :

                  • Why would a commissioner hinder a community so by continually putting up roadblocks to a safe and fund-able plan and potentially having a community lose $2.3 million in funding already in place. Funding which will go a long way in helping to make much needed safety improvements so our residents can have a better quality of life as well as making it safer for those who drive, bike and walk through this corridor of Dixie Hwy?
                  • Why have you not put this plan on the City Commissions agenda and have it brought up for a vote?
                  • What do we, as a community, need to do to get your full  support in backing this plan and bringing it forward to the City Commission?
                  • Seeking understanding,

                    Concerned Resident and Home Owner of Middle River Terrace

                    Domingo Cid


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