Pop quiz without looking it up: From where do you know the name Henry E. Kinney? Go on, I’ll wait.
If you said “from under the New River,” you are correct. Henry’s is the name on the tunnel you pass through every time you cross the river on Federal Highway. As a print journalist, the story of how he got his name on the tunnel makes me happy. Back in the day, he was the Broward editor of the Miami Herald. When the tunnel vs. bridge debate was raging, he and, by extension, the Herald opinion page, came down on the side of a tunnel. Years later, he was thanked by being immortalized in such a way that we drive under his name every time we enter the tunnel.
This made me realize a couple things. One, I need to find some issue to really champion in this magazine so that someday, there will be a piece of civic infrastructure with my name on it. Does Fort Lauderdale have enough public bathrooms? Maybe I’ll make that my thing. The Erik Petersen Commode, coming to downtown any year now.
It also made me reflect on the fact that debates on the best way to cross the New River are something of a civic tradition. Heck, Frank Stranahan, the man sometimes called the father of Fort Lauderdale, first had a job down here ferrying people across the river. Bridges, bigger bridges, a tunnel – we’ve been working out the best way to get people across the river in Fort Lauderdale since before there even was a Fort Lauderdale.
And now we’re back at it. Our main feature in this issue looks at the current debate between a new rail bridge and a new rail tunnel to replace the old, outdated rail drawbridge currently used by Brightline and freight trains. City leaders badly want a tunnel. The Florida Department of Transportation is keeping officially neutral at this point in the process, but city leaders believe they favor the less expensive option of a bridge.
This is all separate from that other tunnel, the one that nice Elon Musk wants to build to move people between downtown and the beach. That could potentially be just the beginning – at some point, Fort Lauderdale could have a Tesla-fied version of the London Underground. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.
It’s not the job of this editor’s note to take a side on important civic issues, but I do recommend you read Christiana Lilly’s excellent story, which breaks down all the potential ways transportation could go up or underground in the coming years.
I will take a stand on one important issue, however. My name is spelled with a “k,” and it would look great on the side of a new piece of civic infrastructure. Maybe not a toilet.