A proposed 2-mile-long bridge across the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, would cut through a historic Black community and hamper its redevelopment if approved, city officials say, reports NBC News.
The bridge, which would stand 80 feet in the air and is slated to cost more than $450 million, is one of four river crossing projects being studied by the Florida Department of Transportation as part of an ambitious plan to increase mobility and alleviate traffic congestion throughout South Florida. The department also is considering two low-rise drawbridges and a tunnel under the river.
However, it is the potential for a bridge that will tower over the historic Black community near Sistrunk Boulevard just northwest of downtown that officials and residents worry would irreversibly harm an area that officials have been aiming to redevelop.
Sistrunk is Fort Lauderdale’s oldest Black community.
Historically, minority neighborhoods across the country have been damaged by hundreds of highways built through them during the middle of the 20th century.
In New Orleans, for example, an expressway cut through historically Black neighborhoods of Treme and the 7th Ward in 1968, decimating a once-bustling thoroughfare of Black-owned businesses. President Joe Biden has said removing such structures could address long-standing inequities in infrastructure.
Fort Lauderdale officials say they’re trying to keep the past from repeating itself.
Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said developers have already threatened to cancel some building projects. He also noted future residents and business owners don’t want to live or work under a bridge or be subjected to constant train rumblings.