Boyd Corbin has a long list of issues he wants to address if elected mayor. Crime, taxes, spending, bar safety, pedestrian safety, increasing parking and more.
But at the top of the list is the planned lane reduction of Wilton Drive. He’s firmly against it.
Since the lane reduction was first proposed, most of the public opinions expressed have been in favor of reducing the street from four lanes to two. But Corbin is so far the most vocal opponent of the project since it became public several years ago.
Proponents of the reduction say it would make the street safer, add additional parking spaces and benefit business owners. Essentially, the idea is to make Wilton Drive more like Las Olas Boulevard.
Corbin has spoken against the reduction at commission meetings, on social media and his campaign website. He’s also started a petition drive, with some of the signatures coming from the booth he set up during the Stonewall festival last month.
If the lane reduction is approved by the state, city officials have stated the Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] would pay for the costs association with altering the physical structure of the road. But, said City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson, any additional landscaping or beautification would have to be paid for by the city.
But Corbin, who is challenging Mayor Gary Resnick, is against the reduction for reasons that don’t include money.
“This insane project will only benefit some business owners on the Drive. They want wider sidewalks for putting tables and chairs on. Let the residents vote. Last year, Mayor Resnick mentioned having a referendum to let residents vote on the issue. This needs to be done before continuing with this bizarre project that will create huge traffic jams not only on Wilton Drive but also on Andrews Avenue, Powerline Road and Northeast 26th Street.”
In November of last year, Resnick promised public hearings would be held on the issue and suggested a referendum be held. A consultant will be at the next commission meeting on July 12 to present scenarios for the Wilton Drive redesign.
The current commission’s support for reducing Wilton Drive is predicated on the financial burden being borne by FDOT. Until recently, officials resisted calls to take on the project because they said the city could not afford to do so on its own. Fort Lauderdale’s request to narrow Northeast 4 Avenue from Sunrise Boulevard to Wilton Manors prompted city officials to request the same for Wilton Drive.
If elected, Corbin, who unsuccessfully challenged Resnick for mayor in 2014, would most likely still face a majority of commissioners in favor of moving forward with the lane reduction.
Commissioners Tom Green and Julie Carson, both candidates for re-election this November, voted to apply to FDOT for the reduction. In April, Green said a two-lane Northeast 4 Avenue and a four-lane Wilton Drive could cause problems on Wilton Drive. The sudden expansion from two to four lanes, said Green, could encourage drivers to speed up once they get into Wilton Manors. That is something that would run counter to the efforts by city officials, residents and business owners to make the street safer for pedestrians.
Paul Rolli supports the lane reduction and agrees with Green, saying that traffic problems could cause arise from not altering the road. Celeste Ellich, the other candidate for commission, said she needs to study the issue further before forming an opinion.