The TC Palm – Indian River County prepares response to All Aboard Florida

Posted on November 13, 2014

By Janet Begley

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — If Treasure Coast residents want to stop All Aboard Florida’s high-speed passenger rail service, they need to stop the money.

That’s the opinion of Dan Richey, an Indian River County citrus grower who was one of the guest speakers Wednesday at the Indian River County Taxpayers’ Association meeting at the Vero Beach Country Club. Along with Indian River County Attorney Dylan Reingold, Richie addressed about 100 members of the group on the train project and answered questions about its status.

Richey said he believes if opponents of All Aboard Florida can influence their federal representatives, there is a chance a $1.6 billion federal loan for which All Aboard has applied through the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program will be denied, possibly derailing the project. All Aboard Florida also is in the process of securing $1.75 billion in private activity bonds, but company officials have said they may keep the loan application open if that amount of bonds is not approved.

“If you stop the RRIF loan, I think this issue dies,” Richey said.

As a citrus grower, Richey said he is extensively involved with international trade and he believes All Aboard Florida is really about increasing freight from the Port of Miami up the eastern seaboard.

“What you have here now is about an effort to expand trade,” Richey said.

Reingold said he and his staff have been preparing the county’s response to the Federal Railroad Administration’s draft environmental impact statement on All Aboard and plan to post the 30- to 40-page document on the county website Friday.

Included in the comments will be the county’s position about the impacts of All Aboard Florida on private property owners as well as questions about the possible alternatives that could be considered if the passenger rail service moved forward. The County Commission will weigh in on the comments at its meeting Nov. 18.

Reingold suggested members of the public review the federal report and offer any additional comments before the Dec. 3 deadline for submission to the Federal Railroad Administration. He urged people not to get discouraged with the process, because he believes All Aboard Florida is not a done deal.

“The key to success will be to build political momentum statewide and in Washington,” Reingold said.

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