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Transportation expert: Entire country watching All Aboard Florida February 17, 2015

The entire country is watching All Aboard Florida, transportation expert Gabe Klein said last month at an MIASF presentation in Fort Lauderdale.

“It could reduce the need for cars, decongest roads and create real estate investment opportunities around the stations,” said Klein, the former transportation head in Chicago and Washington.

But in order to ensure it’s executed properly, there needs to be conversations at the grassroots level and at the highest level, he says.

Regarding All Aboard Florida’s impact on marine businesses along the New River, Klein says there’s almost always a win-win scenario, such as an engineering fix – the question is how much it will cost and who will pay for it.

About 40 people attended the event at the Hyatt Regency Pier 66, which was sponsored by the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance and Fifth Third Bank.

Also, Klein says it’s important to be forward-thinking about projects such as activating the South Andrews Avenue corridor. In other cities, he says businesses on a street that was made more bike- and pedestrian-friendly saw a 49 percent increase in business – when people are biking or walking, there’s a much higher chance they will stop than people who drive by.

To accomplish this, we need to look at spending vs. investing – we need to think of infrastructure as an investment, Klein says. The key, he says, are public-private partnerships. “We need to meet in the middle,” he said. “We can’t afford not to do it.”

And when people share cars or use public transportation, there’s less need for parking in cities, which creates huge economic potential, since parking lots and parking garages are low-value space.

The U.S. spends 2% of its gross domestic product on infrastructure, while Europe spends 5-6 percent and Asia spends 8-9 percent. “It costs less to maintain infrastructure than ignore it,” Klein told the audience.

Something Klein said to keep an eye out for is self-driving cars, which will be on the market within the next two years. Google is testing electric self-driving cars in California, and several car manufacturers are already releasing models this year that have automated functions.

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