Proposed bridge to cross Florida’s historic black community

A proposed bridge to cross the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, Fla., would cross a historic black community and hinder its redevelopment if approved, city officials say.

First reported by NBC’s Deon J. Hampton, the Florida Department of Transportation is studying four river crossing projects as part of an ambitious plan to ease traffic congestion and increase mobility in South Florida. The bridge would stand 80 feet above the water and cost more than $450 million.

However, officials and residents are concerned about the potential for a bridge that would tower over the historic black community near Sistrunk Boulevard, just northwest of downtown, an area officials hope to redevelop.

Sistrunk is the oldest black community in Fort Lauderdale.

Interstate built through Greenwood

The outcome of cities using eminent domain building highways through black communities to further segregate cities is nothing new.

In 1967, construction of Interstate 244 was completed with a bridge crossing the heart of Greenwood, home of historic Black Wall Street in Tulsa, Oklahoma and where the Tulsa Race Massacre took place.

“It took the heart of Greenwood,” Tulsa photographer Donald Thompson once said. Tulsa World. “If this highway hadn’t been put here, I think there would have been a resurgence, but Greenwood hasn’t had the opportunity to rebuild.”

In 2021, city officials began looking community input on what to do with the I-244 bridge.

“AAs we talk about real atonement and real reparations, the community needs to be involved in these discussions,” said board chair Vanessa Hall-Harper.

For residents of Sistrunk, Florida, the fight to save the historic black community from being bisected by a bridge will be a long one. The Florida Department of Transportation says it is getting feedback from the community. The report notes that the Broward County Commission has the final say on the projects and will vote this spring on the “local preferred option,” followed by hearings to be held in the fall.

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