Florida Politics by Scott Powers
December 14, 2017
Indian River and Martin counties and Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida are seeking to delay and move Florida Development Finance Corporation consideration of financing for the All Aboard Florida train, charging that the meeting could violate Florida’s open meeting laws.
The two counties and CARE-Florida are opponents of All Aboard Florida’s plans to develop a private, high-speed, passenger train system from West Palm Beach to Orlando. They want the meeting delayed until they can receive and review meeting packets, and for the meeting to be moved from Jacksonville to somewhere within the rail route’s corridor, contending that holding the meeting 150 miles away could be prejudicial to the issue.
The Florida Development Finance Corporation has scheduled an emergency meeting in Jacksonville for 10 a.m. on Dec. 18
All Aboard Florida is seeking Florida Development Finance Corporation backing for the issuance of $1.15 billion in lower-interest, Private Activity Bonds to finance upgrades of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks between West Palm Beach and Cocoa, and and to construct new tracks from Cocoa to the Orlando International Airport. All Aboard Florida is preparing to launch its private “Brightline” passenger train service between West Palm Beach and Miami in a matter of weeks. The second phase of that project would, in a couple of years, run Brightline trains at speeds of up to 110 mph between West Palm and Cocoa, and up to 125 mph between Cocoa and Orlando.
Opponents, mainly in the ride-over counties of Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie, have fought against that second phase, arguing the trains would cause safety and environmental concerns with up to 32 trains a day crossing more than 100 at-grade street and road crossings and numerous canals and rivers at high speeds.
All Aboard Florida contends it will be meeting the nation’s highest rail safety and environmental protection standards. [READ MORE]