Treasure Coast delegation questions feds about All Aboard Florida study

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Treasure Coast state legislators sent a letter of concern to the Federal Railroad Administration over an environmental-impact study of All Aboard Florida passenger-rail service, which plans to run through the region without stops.

The delegation argues that the Environmental Impact Statement draft released in September inadequately addresses safety and quality-of-life impacts of the planned passenger line from Miami to Orlando.

The letter concluded by suggesting the federal agency reject a requested $1.6 billion loan for All Aboard Florida’s, the reason for the study, if the company does not properly address the lawmakers’ concerns.

According to the letter, “it is evident from the (study) that the AAF proposal to run 16 round trip, high speed trains from Miami to Orlando concentrates the public benefit in communities where stations are proposed, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando, with virtually no public benefit north of Palm Beach County.”

Another concern was track improvements for passenger rail would “significantly increase the capacity of the Florida East Coast Railroad to transport freight.”

Sens. Thad Altman and Denise Grimsley and Reps. Gayle Harrell MaryLynn Magar, Debbie Mayfield, and Larry Lee signed the letter.

The deadline for the public comments on the proposals is Dec. 3.

After the study became public, All Aboard Florida, owned by Florida East Coast Industries from Coral Gables, announced it would issue bonds to attract private investment in an effort to reduce (or possibly replace) the amount requested by the federal government.

Set to begin rolling out late 2016 between Miami and West Palm Beach, the passenger rail service has met with strong opposition and has become a political issue in both the Treasure and Space coasts.

Residents and community leaders in Northern Palm Beach, Treasure and Space Coasts are questioning the potential impacts of rail to motorists, businesses, boaters and first responders.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.