Author Topic: TCPalm looks past the Brightline lawsuits  (Read 468 times)

spuwho

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TCPalm looks past the Brightline lawsuits
« on: July 17, 2017, 06:52:49 PM »
A very unpopular editorial in the TCPalm newspaper begins the discussion on changing course and being an advocate for a Brightline station on the Treasure Coast.

Per the TCPalm:

http://www.tcpalm.com/story/opinion/editorials/2017/07/13/time-pursue-brightline-train-stop-our-view/472634001/

Is it time to pursue Brightline train stop? | Our view

This editorial will not be popular in many parts of the Treasure Coast.

But we're compelled to raise a question that must be asked and answered: Is it time for our region to pursue an All Aboard Florida/Brightline train stop?

Heresy, you say.

Maybe just common sense.

The legal battle waged by Indian River and Martin counties to stop the Miami-to-Orlando passenger rail project is winding down. Recently, Martin County dropped a lawsuit filed in Orange County questioning the validity of $1.75 billion in tax-free bonds approved for the project by the Florida Development Finance Corp.

Indian River County filed and lost a similar case last year in Leon County.

In May, a federal judge dismissed legal challenges filed by both counties to the rail project. In those lawsuits, the counties argued the U.S. Department of Transportation violated the National Environmental Protection Act when it approved $1.75 billion of tax-free financing to All Aboard Florida before a final environmental review was completed.




While there remain some unresolved administrative challenges by the counties with respect to permits Brightline needs from state and regional agencies, there are no active legal challenges.

Indian River and Martin counties have allocated or spent more than $6 million in their fight against All Aboard Florida. The end result of the counties' efforts: Brightline is unencumbered in its efforts to move forward with the project, though it continues to struggle to obtain financing.

Maybe it's time for the counties to cease opposition and chart a new course. Maybe it's time to pursue a train stop on the Treasure Coast.

Granted, this has been an intensely emotional issue for many residents opposed to the project. For some of you, any discussion of a train stop in our region is simply anathema.

The Editorial Board of Treasure Coast Newspapers understands that sentiment. We share residents' concerns about traffic congestion and safety. But we also think the facts on the ground have changed and might indicate the need for a new approach by local governments.

If the train is coming, Treasure Coast residents should benefit from it.

Currently, no train stop is planned for our region.

Brightline eventually plans to run 16 passenger trains in each direction, daily, between Miami and Orlando, with intermediate stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. All Aboard Florida officials have said for the project to be financially viable, their trains need to get from Miami to Orlando, and vice versa, within about three hours.

Supposedly, a stop in our region would extend trips beyond the three-hour window. OK. So here's one possible solution: If the rail company is unwilling to budge on the three-hour window, why can't it stagger stops along the 235-mile route? Add a train stop on the Treasure Coast — i.e., in Stuart, Fort Pierce or Vero Beach — and have each train stop, on a rotating basis, at two of the three intermediate stations.

There are about 600,000 residents in our three-county area. That's 600,000 potential passengers who could help All Aboard Florida reach its ridership goals.

Of course, any discussion about a train stop in our region presupposes a willingness on Brightline's part to explore the possibility. The Treasure Coast has engendered a lot of ill will with the rail company in the past three years.

Still, Brightline officials continue to voice a conciliatory tone.

"We look forward to continuing to work with the communities in the Treasure Coast, especially on partnerships with quiet zones, similar to our efforts in South Florida," the company said recently in an email. "These are important steps forward as we build a transportation system for Florida’s future."

Increasingly, the future looks like it could include passenger trains swooshing through the Treasure Coast. If so, it would be a shame if some of them didn't stop to pick up local residents.

It's time to, at least, discuss the possibility.

marcuscnelson

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Re: TCPalm looks past the Brightline lawsuits
« Reply #1 on: July 17, 2017, 08:08:58 PM »
Good on them.

If they can get Brightline into the habit of trying to build even more stations, maybe they'll be more likely to consider moving up on the tracks they already own instead of trying to go to Tampa.

Their parent company is Florida East Coast, right? So link up the East Coast!