Tampa Bay Times: Anti-train group asks Scott for funding detail ‘openly and honestly’

Posted on July 8, 2014

Steve Bousquet, Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau

A coalition of Treasure Coast citizens groups has sent a letter to Gov. Rick Scott voicing concerns about the effect that a new commercial train venture will have on the region’s quality of life.

The letter’s tone is highly skeptical of assertions made repeatedly by Scott and the Department of Transportation that All Aboard Florida is a “private venture (with) no state subsidies,” as a DOT release said Monday.

CARE, or Citizens Against Rail Expansion, is comprised of community organizations in Palm Beach Gardens, Jupiter, Stuart and Hobe Sound, places in the path of All Aboard Florida, which plans 32 trips daily along the FEC railroad tracks between Miami and Orlando beginnins in late 2016.

“On the question of financing, we have many questions,” CARE wrote to Scott. “The proposed AAF plan has been publicly described by your office as a private sector venture, but it is also a fact that many costs may be passed along directly to local communities … and if this is truly not a private sector venture, but a hybrid that relies on community funding, at least tangentially, then let’s talk about that openly and honestly so that Floridians can understand — clearly and up front — exactly what those costs are, and who, precisely, is expected to pay for them.”

Scott supports All Aboard Florida, but he has called on the company to hold more public hearings in the affected areas and he supports extending the time for public comment on an environmental impact statement. Scott signed a new budget that includes most of the $230 million for a multi-model passenger station at Orlando International Airport that will be used as an All Aboard Florida stop, and $10 million for a local grant program to reduce train noise at grade crossings.

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