The battle with Oakland Park isn’t over yet

State officials are promising one Tri-Rail station to serve passengers in Wilton Manors and Oakland Park. But with only one station for both cities, the question still remains: what city will it be built in?

That’s an answer the Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] said it hopes to have answered in the Spring of 2016. In total, 25 stations, from Miami-Dade to Jupiter, will be built as part of an eastern extension of Tri-Rail along the FEC Railway.

Choosing the site will depend on the residential and/or commercial density of the potential surrounding area and the potential ridership. FDOT officials said maximizing ridership will help the project obtain federal funding.

In Tier 1, stations will be built three to four miles apart. If Wilton Manors doesn’t get a station the first time, Amie Goddeau, FDOT Dist. 4 project manager, said there’s a chance it could be chosen in Tier 2. “You’ve got to be cost effective with the key destinations and high ridership. If the system is very successful, you’d have opportunities for more of a local station. As the system grows, there’s more opportunity,” Goddeau said.

If Wilton Manors is chosen, the station could be built somewhere south of the corner of Northeast 26 Street and Dixie Highway. If in Oakland Park, it could be built north of the corner of Oakland Park Boulevard and Dixie Highway.

To help Wilton Manors’ chances, in addition to lobbying FDOT directly at a public meeting in 2012, city officials have taken steps to make the area around the railway more attractive. The Transit Oriented Corridor [TOC], which encompasses Dixie Highway was approved by commissioners to allow for more commercial and residential mixed-use.

City Manager Leigh Ann Henderson said allowing mixed-use will increase the area’s “destination value.”

Developers have also played a role by increasing the number of residents who live nearby the train tracks. Built in 2006, Wilton Station, located on Northeast 26 Street just east of Dixie Highway, has 272 condo units and 18,000 square feet of retail space. The Metropolitan, currently under construction and located on Northeast 24 Street near Dixie Highway, has 179 apartment units.