Brightline skeptics worry about safety, environment in Florida

Posted on April 13, 2018

By: David Patch, The Blade

STUART, Fla. — While passengers and promoters gush about the speed and comfort of the new Brightline trains rushing between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, Fla. — and soon all the way to Miami — David Cook isn’t so impressed.

Mr. Cook, the proprietor of Hand’s Hallmark in Delray Beach, Fla., has set up a mocking display of the “High Speed Killer Bullet Train Set” in his shop’s front window.

The trains so far have run mostly empty, Mr. Cook said, and all they do for communities between West Palm and Fort Lauderdale is delay street traffic, make noise, and occasionally hit people on the tracks.

“It doesn’t stop here. It’s not useful to people in Delray Beach, or Boca [Raton], or Boynton [Beach],” he said.

Safety and quality-of-life issues — six fatalities to date are attributed to the new train — have been raised by critics. Those concerns along with allegations about environmental harm caused when either vehicles or boats have to wait for trains at crossings and drawbridges, form the backbone of a federal lawsuit seeking to block Brightline’s second phase between West Palm Beach and Orlando.

Two counties, a public opposition group, and an emergency-services district filed the the 94-page lawsuit in February. It contends that federal proceedings to approve $1.15 billion in tax-exempt Private Activity Bonds, which form a significant part of Orlando-phase financing, were defective in several ways…

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