Jupiter Town Council quizzes All Aboard Florida officials
Posted on June 2, 2015
By Sarah Peters
Jupiter — A few hundred people packed the Jupiter Community Center on Monday night to get answers about All Aboard Florida’s high-speed rail plans – but they weren’t allowed to ask the questions.
Jupiter Town Council members quizzed All Aboard Florida, Florida East Coast Railway and Florida East Coast Industries representatives about their plans for passenger rail between Miami and Orlando during a work session.
The town in an inquiry submitted before the meeting questioned the safety and lifespan of the Loxahatchee River Bridge. Robert Ledoux, FEC’s vice president, said acknowledged the bridge doesn’t work as well as it could but that there’s no specific date to replace it.
FEC has no plans to replace the bridge within five years, Ledoux said.
Vice Mayor Jim Kuretski said he found that attitude “disappointing.”
“That’s the way other bridges are looked at,” he said. “That doesn’t leave a lot of comfort in our minds, being elected officials concerned about the public.”
Residents who oppose the proposed high-speed rail service passed out information sheets and gathered signatures for a petition outside the meeting. Some wore white T-shirts with stop signs on them.
Rusty Roberts, vice president of corporate development at Florida East Coast Industries, said the railway will address specific local concerns.
Michael Lefevre, All Aboard Florida’s operations planner, said the rail line received comment from Jupiter about three weeks ago and submitted responses Monday morning.
Kuretski also questioned how trains crossing the Loxahatchee River Bridge will affect boaters.
Roberts said improvements FEC and All Aboard plan to make to the bridge will reduce the time it takes to open and close it. The bridge will not remain down if a second train is coming unless it’s expected within seven minutes, he said.
Other changes will allow boaters to know the trains’ schedule. They’ll be able to check a smartphone app to check the real-time status of the bridge to plan their journey and not have to wait in a long queue, Roberts said.
He said he didn’t want to call another feature a “countdown clock,” but he couldn’t think of any other description.
“All of those systems will allow mariners to know in advance how to mitigate their inconveniences at the bridge,” Roberts said.