The Palm Beach Post: All Aboard Florida to move “as quickly as possible” to Tampa, Jax, editor says
Posted on January 27, 2015
By Kimberly Miller
In the December issue of Florida Trend magazine the executive editor’s column about All Aboard Florida makes a statement about its future that the express passenger rail service has yet to make publicly.
In his En Route column, executive editor Mark R. Howard says All Aboard will move “as quickly as possible to extend the train to Tampa and Jacksonville” once the Orlando train station is under construction.
“In the meantime, Florida is home to the most interesting transportation project in the country,” Howard wrote.
All Aboard Florida, which plans to run 32 trains per day on the Florida East Coast Railway tracks, expects to open service between Miami and West Palm Beach in late 2016. That will be followed with an extension to Orlando in 2017.
But the company has been coy about its next steps. Areas north of West Palm Beach are fighting the service, citing safety concerns and delays to boaters who are blocked when two bridges over the Loxahatchee and St. Lucie rivers must lower for train traffic.
Howard says in his column that it’s “unclear whether they’re actually worried about noise, safety issues and property values or just trying to extort a station sooner than demand justifies.”
All Aboard Florida plans call for stations in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.
“All Aboard Florida is currently focused on developing and constructing the Orlando-to-Miami segment,” the company said in a statement when asked about Howard’s column. “Once the first phase is operational, we will work with stakeholders along the corridor and throughout the state to determine if expansion opportunities exist.”
In June, The Palm Beach Post reported that All Aboard Florida had formed a related company that pointed to the possible extension of its service north to Jacksonville.
The new company, AAF Jacksonville Segment LLC, which was registered May 29 in Delaware, penned a June 11 agreement with All Aboard Florida that gives it the easement rights to shuttle passengers on the lines from Cocoa to Jacksonville. The agreement was filed June 18 in St. Johns County.
A Jacksonville link would take All Aboard Florida on about a 150-mile route through Duval, St. Johns, Volusia and Brevard counties.
The Jacksonville Transportation Authority is in favor of a connection.
“JTA has been monitoring All Aboard Florida, and we are hopeful that the Miami-to-Orlando project is successful and generates support for future extensions to cities like Jacksonville,” authority spokesman John Finotti, spokesman for the authority, in June.