The TC Palm: Brent Hanlon: Efforts opposing All Aboard Florida just getting started

Posted on September 4, 2015

Brent Hanlon

In a recent column, Rich Campbell of Treasure Coast Newspapers threw in the towel and admitted defeat to All Aboard Florida.

If you believe Campbell, a longtime All Aboard Florida critic, it’s all over but the shouting — more trains are coming, and all of our efforts to protect public safety, access to medical care, navigable waterways and a better quality of life have been in vain.

The members of Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida believe All Aboard Florida’s misguided rail boondoggle is simply wrong. Let us count some of the ways.

We agree with Campbell’s previous assertion the final Federal Railroad Administration report on All Aboard Florida is a “charade.”

We continue to have serious questions about whether the project itself is financially feasible.

We share the concerns of our elected officials who courageously joined concerned members of our community in urging the Florida Development Finance Corp. to resist issuing bonds to the tune of almost $1.8 billion for this project.

We have only begun to uncover the extent of the backdoor coordination between All Aboard Florida executives and state regulators. Rather than retreating, we urge our community to continue rallying around our elected leaders because we believe more pressure will put FDFC officials on notice and demand greater transparency from government.

Throughout this process, Campbell has been a voice of reason, while the plans from All Aboard Florida have been anything but reasonable for the citizens of the Treasure Coast and North Palm Beach regions.

We believe the numerous concerns that have been expressed since the project began are as valid today as they were then.

CARE FL and other supporting groups will not succumb to pressure from All Aboard Florida, and we will not cede to the argument that our community will be forever changed for the worse without any corresponding change by the rail company.

With so much at stake, now is the time for our citizens and leaders to stay the course. We say, don’t give up.

Not fighting this rail project means that we are saying yes to scores of freight and high-speed passenger rail traffic near our schools. It means first responders will now have to wait longer to transport patients, jeopardizing lives and putting our immediate access to health facilities at risk. The same is true for firefighters and law enforcement officials who have also expressed their concerns about public safety response times. We also know this project has a negative impact on property values, and that in the long run, will damage our economy.

It also means we lose control of our waterways, which will be shut down far more frequently from passing trains causing dangerous boater congestion in sometimes treacherous waterways.

Our organization is standing up to a private corporation with deep pockets, an ill-advised agenda and an unwillingness to listen to our community.

Simply put, our fight against All Aboard Florida will continue.

Accepting defeat is taking the easy way out. Nothing worth fighting for is ever easy. And those who believe this is a done deal should consider the words of President Teddy Roosevelt, who once said: “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”

On behalf of some of the many concerned citizens joined together in this fight, we stand united behind our elected and community leaders in this arena.

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