Letter: Future calls for better, faster rail system, but not what’s being planned

Posted on January 27, 2016

By: Richard Ewing, North Hutchinson Island

Letter: Future calls for better, faster rail system, but not what's being planned

At the annual meeting of the North Beach Association, St. Lucie County administrator Howard Tipton gave a much-appreciated presentation on the state of the county, especially related to growth.

As a snowbird, it was somewhat of a surprise to learn about (or more appropriately, to understand) the unprecedented growth and development Florida has experienced in the last couple of decades.

It's also somewhat frightening to understand the challenges we all face relative to continued growth as more and more baby boomers move to Florida.

Now my concern with AAF: What the heck are we all thinking?

Enough said about the ridiculous 100 mph-plus passenger trains transiting St. Lucie County where most of the crossings are ground level and most of the rail line is unprotected. What about the significant freight rail traffic?

Henry Flagler built the current rail system when Florida was wilderness and passenger travel was state-of-the-art, and when freight trains were likely less than 25 cars long. Today and tomorrow, mass transit will likely be needed and freight trains that already exceed 150 cars in length are the norm.

We'll have rail growth along a rail system that is already congested and dangerous and promises to experience more unprecedented growth.

The rail infrastructure through St. Lucie County passes across a bridge in Stuart that should have been replace years ago, north along the St. Lucie River and the Savannas, through the center of Fort Pierce and on to Vero Beach, exposing the entire environment to potential disaster.

It really is time for the Feds, state and local governments to wake up and replace the current system with a modern rail system located by Interstate 95 that is enclosed for safety and where crossings are either elevated or underground to eliminate congestion and danger to the population and environment. Europe and Japan are examples. Study them.

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