The Palm Beach Post: All Aboard Florida opponents see victory in board decision

Posted on April 8, 2015

By Kimberly Miller


The board charged with deciding whether All Aboard Florida will receive $1.75 billion in tax exempt bonds rebuffed a request Tuesday that would have smoothed a path to approval, saying it needs more information about the project and input from the public.


The decision by the Florida Development Finance Corp. board against ratifying a previous board’s favorable All Aboard Florida vote was touted as a small victory by opponents of the express passenger rail plan and bolstered their hope that three newly-appointed members wouldn’t simply rubber-stamp the project.


All Aboard Florida has called the private activity bonds the “linchpin” to completing its Miami to Orlando passenger rail, which plans to run 32 trains per day on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks from Miami to Orlando.


A public hearing — the first in relation to the bonds — is scheduled for April 20 in Tallahassee.


While Tuesday’s decision may be only a speed bump for All Aboard Florida as the new board gets its bearings, corporation staff members also said it will be months before a final vote on the bonds can be taken as they have no information on their proposed structure or financing.


All Aboard Florida has only until July 1 to issue the bonds under provisional approval already granted by the U.S. Department of Transportation.


“I am very pleased the Florida Development Finance Corporation board acknowledged and recognized the importance of the public input of this highly and significant issue,” said Dylan Reingold, attorney for Indian River County, which is opposing the project. “The board asked a lot of great questions and I found that very encouraging.”


Indian River County filed a federal lawsuit last week against the U.S. Department of Transportation, saying its initial approval of the bonds should not have occurred before the environmental impact statement was finalized.

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