Frequently Asked Questions
Click on a question below to see the answer:
- Is the All Aboard Florida (AAF) project a done deal?
- What is the relationship between All Aboard Florida, the Florida East Coast Railway and Fortress Investment Group?
- How will AAF finance their project if they can’t sell their $1.75 in Private Activity Bonds?
- How many trains will and how fast will they travel?
- Is All Aboard Florida planning any train stops for the Treasure Coast?
- What is the Florida Development Finance Corporation and what is their role in the sale of AAF bonds?
- What is the significance of the Federal Railroad Administration’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)?
- What is the difference between a Quiet Zone and a Sealed Corridor?
IT IS NOT A DONE DEAL!!! Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida (CARE) believes that by working together we can stop AAF – an ill-conceived rail project that threatens the public safety and current way of life in communities along the Treasure Coast, Space Coast and Palm Beaches.
All Aboard Florida has not received needed permits from a number of agencies, including several State Water Districts, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Coast Guard. These agencies will rely heavily on the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) issued by the Federal Railroad Administration for their decisions. We believe the FEIS is inaccurate, inadequate and incomplete.
All Aboard Florida will have an adverse effect on public safety, our local economy, the maritime industry, and the quality of life our residents, friends and neighbors enjoy.
All Aboard Florida is a subsidiary of Florida East Coast Industries (FECI). FECI is backed by private equity funds managed by Fortress Investment Group. All Aboard Florida’s passenger rail service, named Brightline, will use Florida East Coast Railway (FECR) tracks for its passenger trains.
CARE does not believe that the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Florida Development Finance Corporation (FDFC) should ever have given AAF the right to sell tax exempt Private Activity Bonds (PABs). Having been granted that right, AAF has to date been unable to sell the bonds, and has asked DOT, for the second time, to extend the period during which it may do so. The unwillingness of investors to buy the bonds is an indication that the financial community shares our skepticism about the financial viability of the project.
According to officials from Fortress Investment Group, AAF will seek other financing options if they are unable to sell the bonds. AAF has also applied for a $1.6 billion low-interest loan from the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program.
The RRIF is an Federal Railroad Administration backed program that provides loans to both private and public entities to help improve railroad infrastructure. If AAF chooses to go the RRIF route, the $1.6 billion loan request would be the largest in history.
All Aboard Florida’s current plan is to run 32 passenger trains a day from Miami to Orlando, sixteen each way. That’s in addition to 14 freight trains, which could go to 28, that already run along the FECR tracks and doesn’t factor in any increased freight that may come along with this project.
The trains will go from 79 to 125 miles an hour, depending on the area they’re in. They will not achieve the 150 miles per hour needed to qualify as high-speed rail. In order to ensure that the train can maintain its promised travel times, it will only have two stops in between Miami and Orlando, leaving much of South Florida and the Treasure Coast to deal with the increased traffic and safety hazards with no benefit to our communities.
The Florida Development Finance Corporation (FDFC) is a part of Enterprise Florida, Inc. Enterprise Florida is a partnership between Florida’s businesses and the state government whose primary goal is to expand Florida’s economy. It’s funded by both the State of Florida and by private-sector businesses. The FDFC is an authorized issuer of tax free industrial revenue bonds, which enable bond sponsors to pay low interest rates.
We believe the FDFC behaved improperly by meeting with AAF leaders and refusing to have similar meetings with any of AAF’s opponents. In August 2015, the FDFC approved All Aboard Florida’s request to issue $1.75 billion in tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds.
In August of 2015, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) released its Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) stating that the All Aboard Florida project would have no significant impacts on the area.
We strongly disagree. We believe that the Environmental Impact Statement approved by the FRA is inaccurate, incomplete and inadequate. According to published reports, the study was prepared by and paid for by AAF consultants before being approved by the FRA. Although CARE FL and many others submitted extensive comments regarding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, those comments were ignored by the FRA. We believe that this project will have profoundly negative impacts on public safety, our economy, our roads and bridges, our real estate values and our way of life.
A sealed corridor is meant to enhance the safety of trains, motorists and pedestrians by providing increased safety measures at grade crossings. All Aboard Florida will be required by the State of Florida to provide sealed corridor protection at as many as 57 grade crossings in South Florida and the Treasure Coast. The safety upgrades on the sealed corridors include four-quadrant gates and concrete medians to prevent drivers from going around gate arms. Sealed corridors are required wherever trains will pass going more than 79 miles per hour
A quiet zone would silence trains horns on FEC tracks when the train is within the zone. Quiet zones require higher levels of safety than sealed corridors, to account for the lack of notice when a train is approaching. These upgrades are very costly, and would include a variety of measures to make sure that drivers and pedestrians won’t ignore crossing arms, including separate crossing grade arms on heavily trafficked pedestrian sidewalks. The process to apply for and implement quiet zones is lengthy.