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Publisher's Letter

Publisher's Letter: Brightline, Luxury Yachts And More Of Fort Lauderdale's Transportation

There are a lot of fancy boats around here. Exactly how many remains a bit of a mystery. In working on the story about the people who crew luxury yachts (page 42), we asked everybody we contacted if they knew how many souls are in the business of keeping luxury afloat. Most people said at least 10,000, maybe more, and that’s just those who go to sea. When you consider all the support workers, from those in the many boat yards to people who sell insurance for those expensive yachts, it adds up to a very big business, larger even than agriculture.

But apparently nobody keeps track of exactly how many boats qualify as luxury yachts—big enough to require a full-time crew. It is a tricky statistic because so many impressive yachts, like the people who own and rent them, are not here year-round. Those boats filling our waterways may be registered in any number of ports. The fact is that there are a lot of them, which brings us to our last page column on the new Brightline semi-high speed train, which just started to run and already is causing serious safety concerns.

As we have written before (going back to the 1970s) such a train is long overdue. The FEC Railway stopped passenger trains in the late 1960s, at exactly the time when the area’s rapid growth began to justify a transportation system that served all the downtowns along the state’s east coast. The problem is to make it truly effective, the old railroad needs to be modernized, eliminating the hundreds of grade crossings that never should have been allowed in the first place. The new train is also about to become a major pain to the boating industry, greatly increasing the number of drawbridge openings at several places along its route.

The worst problem is downtown Fort Lauderdale where the tracks cross the extremely busy New River. The train presently stops a few blocks north of that interchange, but soon will be extended to downtown Miami. That will cause havoc on a waterway that already has its own form of a traffic jam. A solution—either a bridge or a tunnel—has to be found. Instead of spending resources on a stupid idea like the WAVE streetcar in downtown Fort Lauderdale, that money and effort should be spent where it is really needed.

Speaking of the big game, which a lot of people are this month, any fan of uniforms knew as soon as the teams came out to warm up for the Super Bowl that the Philadelphia Eagles had at least a six-point advantage, maybe more, based just on the way they looked. The Eagles wore their best suit; the Patriots did not. With white or silver pants, the Patriots are a pleasing site, but those dark blue pants compromise their purpose. The Eagles, on the other hand, have not changed their look much since they last won a championship in 1960. A few years ago they went from a Kelly green to a darker hue, which actually looks meaner, and when they wore white britches against the dark jerseys and helmets, they had a built-in big game advantage.

Watching that game, with a backup quarterback Nick Foles playing a near flawless game —even scoring a touchdown on a trick play— South Floridians of blessed memory may have thought back to the season of 1972, the legendary undefeated team, and recalled that for much of that season it was a backup quarterback who led the team. The late Earl Morrall took over for an injured Bob Griese in the fifth game of the season and kept the team unbeaten right up to the Super Bowl, when Griese returned to cap off that memorable season. The amazing thing about Morrall, who later became mayor of Davie, is that he did it more than once. In 1968 he replaced a hurt Johnny Unitas and won 15 games in guiding the Baltimore Colts to the Super Bowl. Two years later he was the winning Super Bowl quarterback, again replacing an injured Unitas for the big game. Impressive as he was, Nick Foles still has a long way to go.