Political Opposition Surfaces to All Aboard Florida

Florida's private inter-city rail project is getting a taste of California-style rail opposition from two counties that responded to citizens' complaints by voting to allot $4.1 million for potential legal action against rail line.
February 21, 2015, 9am PST | Irvin Dawid
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"Indian River County Commissioners pledged $2.7 million (and) Martin County Commissioners agreed to pull $1.4 million from the county’s reserve accounts to fight the rail project," writes Kim Miller of Palm Beach Post. Both votes were unanimous.

"In Indian River County, Commissioner Bob Solari said the trains, which will travel up to 110 mph, will 'deleteriously harm Treasure Coast communities.See the county's webpage on the project that has links to relevant county documents and presentations. "FECI" refers to Florida East Coast Industries, the corporation planning and financing the rail project.

"We need to do all we can to protect our community," said Solari, who also received permission to write a resolution he hopes will energize all Treasure Coast communities to oppose All Aboard Florida and derail its effort to get $1.75 billion in private activity bonds.

"That is open-ended intentionally," [Martin County Commissioner] Haddox said of the motion. "It may be to engage an environmental firm. It may be to do a more in-depth economic study. It may be to engage a lobbyist. It may be to engage in legal action. My motion is intentionally worded to be broad."

"The counties' commissioners voted to act in response to citizen complaints about the supposed impact the trains and noise would have on their quality of life," according to Progressive Railroading.

In another Palm Beach Post articleKimberly Miller and Jennifer Sorentrue write that "All Aboard Florida would have to charge $273 for a one-way train ticket between Miami and Orlando to make its large debt payments, according to a economic study commissioned by a citizens group fighting the express passenger rail project."

The 15-page analysis by John N. Friedman, an associate professor at Brown University, found that for All Aboard Florida to break even, the private rail company’s fare would be roughly $145 more than the average cost of a one-way plane ticket between Miami and Orlando.

The actions by the two counties resemble those of cities on the San Francisco Peninsula, e.g., Atherton, Menlo Park and Palo Alto and Kings County in the Central Valley that have a long history of litigation with California high-speed rail. Atherton is now engaged in a lawsuit with Caltrain, the local community railroad, over its electrification environmental impact report.

Hat tip to Sierra Club's transportation listserv.

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, February 17, 2015 in The Palm Beach Post
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