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Scott calls on rail project to listen closely to residents

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday called on developers of a private railroad project to take more steps in response to questions and concerns of residents living who may be affected by All Aboard Florida, the first passenger train service on Florida's east coast in five decades.

Scott wrote to project president Mike Reininger on the same day that the Times/Herald published a story detailing the intense level of resistance including formal opposition by Martin and Indian River counties.

All Aboard Florida plans to run 32 trains daily beginning in late 2016 between Miami and Orlando, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. His office has received a flurry of critical mail from constituents about the venture. Scott's press office put this headline on the news release about the letter: "The Voices of Our Communities Must be Heard."

"In response to local communities' questions about All Aboard Florida, we must ensure that there is a detailed conversation about this new rail service. Many families are worried about how these additional trains will affect their neighborhoods and their concerns should be heard," Scott wrote.

Scott said he has asked state transportation secretary Ananth Prasad to meet with community leaders and legislators about the project "and ensure their voices are heard" by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the lead agency on the project and the agency that All Aboard Florida has asked for a $1.5 billion federal loan. He also asked that All Aboard Florida extend the public comment period on the project from 75 to 90 days to give residents "more opportunity to have their specific concerns addressed."

Scott's letter is a formal acknowledgement of the high level of concern among residents in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast counties of Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River. The governor last week indicated that he wanted the train venture to be "successful," but he emphasized that the company should listen closely to residents' concerns.

Martin and Indian River are medium-sized and reliably Republican counties that favored Scott in 2010. St. Lucie is a larger Democratic county that opposed Scott in 2010 and Palm Beach, the state's third-largest county, is strongly Democratic.

In his letter, Scott specifically cited the effect the trains could have on boat traffic because of their impact on railroad drawbridges over the New River, St. Lucie River and Loxahatchee River. He concluded by telling Reininger to "please be sensitive to the impact of additional rail traffic in the rail corridor to our communities, their home values and public safety." The full text of the governor's letter is here.

Comments

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ed jenkins

The citizens want none of their money confiscated for the benefit of private business owners including this railroad company. While the citizens welcome all business ventures they would discourage this foolish idea of using 19th century transportation methods in the modern era when more efficient travel methods have been invented.

Can't take anymore

Scott is taking the Marco Rubio approach and sounding off on every issue he hears about. I sincerely doubt he could point out Martin or Indian River Counties on a state map without an aide first locating them for him. Do you wonder how much he pays Ed Jenkins to blog?

Phyllis Frey

This is part of the housing and transportation package for Regionalism called "Seven 50" which was defeated in Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin County in 2012-2013. It is now being ushered in by All Aboard Florida.
This is the agenda for the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council that works hand-in-glove with the Congress for New Urbanism to push Transit Oriented Development.

Properties located within 1,000' of the tracks with 32 110 m.p.h. trains and increased freight bisecting our coastal towns, will be devalued by 5% - 20%.
The New Urbanist cronies will purchase the distressed properties and build their "transit village" stack-and-pack high rises in hubs.
Since we know that Seven 50 (control of seven counties within 50 years) wants us out of our single family homes and the DOT wants us out of our cars and into their trains, the perfect storm has arrived. So if you like your single family home and your automobile you can keep it. Period.


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