The TC Palm: State legislators blast All Aboard Florida study

Posted on October 15, 2014

Arnie Rosenberg

October 14, 2014

The federal government has underestimated the damage All Aboard Florida would do to Treasure Coast communities along its route, six state legislators say in a letter to the Federal Railroad Administration. If the railroad can’t adequately address the problems, the $2.25 billion plan should be rejected, they say.

The legislators — representing Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties — say the recently released Environmental Impact Statement on All Aboard Florida makes it clear that the project “concentrates the public benefit in communities where stations are proposed — Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando — with virtually no public benefits north of Palm Beach County.”

Moreover, they wrote, the 522-page report “minimizes or narrowly touches on the health, safety and traffic operations, economic, fiscal, environmental and quality-of-life impacts” All Aboard Florida would bring.

The letter is accompanied by a three-page list of specific concerns, citing medical emergencies in which first-responder delays could be critical; specific grade crossings which would see “significant delays;” the impact on marine industries, local businesses and restaurants; and potential damage to local rivers and the Indian River Lagoon.

“Should AAF be unable to ameliorate adequately the specific negative impacts of this project on the citizens of the Treasure Coast,” the legislators wrote, “we recommend that the (requested federal) loan be denied and the project rejected.”

The letter is signed by state Sens. Thad Altman, R-Rockledge, and Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring; and by state Reps. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart; Larry Lee, D-Port St. Lucie; MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta; and Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach.

All Aboard Florida, a division of Florida East Coast Industries, would link Miami and Orlando with high-speed passenger trains. The entire system, which would run 32 trains a day through the Treasure Coast at speeds up to 110 mph, is to be operating by 2017.

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