The Palm Beach Post: Coast Guard: Meetings on All Aboard ‘very limited in scope’

Posted on September 11, 2014

By Christine Stapleton

The Coast Guard has scheduled two “scoping meetings” to determine the potential effects on navigation caused by All Aboard Florida over three drawbridges.

The Oct. 2 and Oct. 3 meetings are “very limited in scope” and are not public hearings, said Marilyn Fajardo, Coast Guard deputy public affairs officer. Although the public will not be barred from speaking, the Coast Guard is currently soliciting written comments for its navigational survey and will be accepting written comments regarding the reasonable needs of marine traffic at the meetings.

Michael Kennedy, president of the Marine Industries Association of Palm Beach County, said he will be disappointed if the meetings aren’t formal hearings for people to voice their concerns.

“I think the Coast Guard needs to hear what the voting public, both recreational and commercial, thinks, and not just in a static type presentation,” Kennedy said. “That’s so important because this involves the safe navigation of our waterways.”

Erin Moffet Hale, communications director for U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, said people will be able to speak directly to Coast Guard representatives, as well as submit written comment cards. Murphy has asked Rear Adm. John Korn for public hearings on the navigational impacts of the high-speed rail.

“Regardless of how it’s classified, this is still an important opportunity for the community to express concerns,” Moffet Hale said.

The first meeting, called the Loxahatchee River Public Information Gathering Meeting, will be held from 7-9 p.m. on Oct. 2 at the Embassy Suites, 4350 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens.

The next meeting, the St. Lucie River Public Information Gathering Meeting, will be held from 7-9 p.m., Oct. 3 at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort, 555 NE Ocean Blvd., Stuart.

The Coast Guard is responsible for analyzing all transportation projects that may affect navigation on waterways. To do that for All Aboard Florida, the Coast Guard needs to know and understand the reasonable needs of navigation on the local waterways, Fajardo said.

“Before we can balance maritime traffic needs with other transportation needs, we must assess the impact of future increased rail traffic across these three draw bridges,” Fajardo said. “The public scoping meetings will help us determine potential impacts to navigation caused by the proposed project over three drawbridges (New River, Loxahatchee River, St. Lucie River) along the All Aboard Florida corridor.”

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