Florida Today: Posey: All Aboard Florida train project should wait

Posted on June 17, 2015

Britt Kennerly

Congressman Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, cites safety and environmental concerns as reasons he favors slowing down a financing plan for the All Aboard Florida rail project. The privately run enterprise proposes running 32 high-speed trains daily through Brevard communities.

In a letter to the editor, to appear Wednesday on FLORIDA TODAY opinion pages, Posey writes:

“All Aboard Florida (AAF) first presented their project as a high-speed train that would be privately funded — they said they didn’t need or want public funding. It wasn’t long before AAF’s proponents asked me to sign a letter endorsing the project as they pursued a $1.6 billion loan from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT). In all my years of public service, I have not seen a taxpayer-financed passenger train that didn’t run large deficits.

“Because the loan came with a lengthy environmental impact study, AAF decided to pursue tax-exempt bonds as a faster way to get financing. These bonds require approval from the DOT, and despite AAF not qualifying under the law, DOT went ahead and authorized the bonds anyway.

“DOT is wrong to finance this project, especially without a completed environmental impact study. These trains will move through our small towns at 110 mph with virtuallyno buffer separating them from our communities. AAF envisions running 32 trains per day on the same track with 20 freight trains. Given how close this track is to adjacent roads and neighborhoods, there are serious safety considerations.

“AAF floats the idea of stopping in Brevard and elsewhere to gain public support, and I believe that might help our economy and also improve safety by slowing down these trains as they enter our communities. I have expressed this to AAF executives. However, AAF has no plans to do so. Slowing down their ‘high-speed’ train is not on their agenda.”

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