It appears as though nowhere is safe for Black people to flourish when it comes to living in Florida.
According to an NBC News report, the Fort Lauderdale Community Redevelopment Agency, a proposed $450 million bridge would cut through Sistrunk, one of the area’s oldest Black communities, if approved.
The two-mile-long bridge is one of several plans under consideration by the Florida Department of Transportation, which may possibly undermine the neighborhood’s redevelopment and increase the potential for harm to the historic Sistrunk community.
Comprised of hard-working families, mom-and-pop small businesses, historic churches, and landmarks, the neighborhood is currently in the midst of ongoing redevelopment. Meanwhile, the city’s mayor, Dean Trantalis, has indicated that a bridge crossing the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale meant to alleviate traffic congestion is “not desired by residents or current and future business owners.”
“If you build a bridge, you are furthering that separation between communities, and we don’t want that,” he said. “We are trying to tear away those divisions and artificial barriers that have kept us apart for so many decades.”
Reminiscent of the eminent domain policies in other areas such as Brooklyn, New York, South Central/Crenshaw, Los Angeles, and more — this plan threatens to destroy a beloved Black community in the name of progress. Named after Dr. James Franklin Sistrunk, the founder of the county’s first Black hospital, the area has become a hub for culture and art in Fort Lauderdale. “You’re going to crush this redevelopment, something that’s been planned for years,” Trantalis said. “No developer wants to have a train bridge next to their building. It would crush the life out of these developments.”
With feedback coming in from the community to the Florida Department of Transportation, the hope is that the Broward County Commission will see this and vote this spring on the “local preferred option” to keep Sistrunk Black.