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  • Federal Judge concludes AAF project not likely to move forward on the Treasure Coast without bond financing. Judge Cooper denied DOT and AAF's motions to dismiss Martin County's National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) claim.

    This conclusion, based on information and documents obtained by Martin and Indian River County attorneys in lawsuits to invalidate the federal government's decision to approve tax-exempt private activity (PAB) bond financing for AAF, led Judge Christopher R. Cooper to reconsider his earlier decision that the Counties will not be harmed if bond financing is not available to AAF. 

  • First, let's thank the (TCPALM) editorial board for pointing out one of the many life threatening aspects of AAF. But let's clarify the situation...a corporation owns the railroad and in the 1960's they pulled up the 2nd set of tracks - cutting costs.

    Now with the widening of the Panama canal, the excess of Natural Gas and Fortress LNG production and all of the other cargo moving on FEC AND the properties of Flagler Real Estate (Fortress) gaining in value with the prospect of AAF passenger stations - the CORPORATIONS want to add back the tracks to add AAF AND make more money off of freight. They want to put 21st century cargo and speed trains on the 100 year old infrastructure. There is a large number of crossings on this "historic" route including many private crossings.

  • Maybe this will give you some indication as to why the county needs to hire consultants now and again (see link below).  Of course, they could not worry about the lives of residents or our environment and just toss these reports and forget about it.  Fortunately, a strong majority of taxpayers want the county to use every means possible to stop the trains including the legal efforts. So much so, that they’ve given their hard earned dollars to private organizations to help even more. (Oh right, you’ve noticed this.)

    TC Palm has not reported on a number of issues including the firm that developed the ridership numbers used in this report has been found to be unethical, been banned by international financial firms and a principal has been convicted of fraudulent activities involving federal government contracts. The firm is even used for projects by the DOT – amazing how that works!

     

  • Along a 200-mile stretch of Florida’s eastern coast, Fortress is embarking on its boldest project yet: the nation’s only purely private intercity passenger railroad.

    The project, All Aboard Florida, is expected to take five years and nearly $3 billion to build. At speeds reaching 100 miles an hour, it plans to eventually carry passengers from Miami to Orlando, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

    And if trains start rolling next year, as planned, and prove successful, the project may provide a template for private investment in public infrastructure for years to come.

    Yet this ambitious private project hinged on the blessing of government officials.

    The administration of Gov. Rick Scott of Florida conditionally agreed to lease out state property to All Aboard Florida, which plans to share the track with an existing freight train company. Federal regulators, after some initial concerns, concluded that the railroad’s safety plans met their standards. And a state-authorized nonprofit approved tax-free bonds that can help finance All Aboard Florida’s business.

  • Since the 2008 financial crisis, Fortress and other private equity firms have rapidly expanded their influence, assuming a pervasive, if under-the-radar, role in daily American life, an investigation by The New York Times has found. Sophisticated political maneuvering — including winning government contracts, shaping public policy and deploying former public officials to press their case — is central to this growth.

    Yet even as private equity wields such influence in the halls of state capitols and in Washington, it faces little public awareness of its government activities, The Times found.

    Along a 200-mile stretch of Florida’s eastern coast, FORTRESS IS EMBARKING ON ITS BOLDEST PROJECT YET:  the nation’s only purely private intercity passenger railroad.

    The project, All Aboard Florida, is expected to take five years and nearly $3 billion to build. At speeds reaching 100 miles an hour, it plans to eventually carry passengers from Miami to Orlando, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach.

    And if trains start rolling next year, as planned, and prove successful, the project may provide a template for private investment in public infrastructure for years to come.

    Yet this ambitious private project hinged on the blessing of government officials.

  • California's high-speed rail project increasingly looks like an expensive social science experiment to test just how long interest groups can keep money flowing to a doomed endeavor before elected officials finally decide to cancel it. What combination of sweet-sounding scenarios, streamlined mockups, ever-changing and mind-numbing technical detail, and audacious spin will keep the dream alive?

    Sold to the public in 2008 as a visionary plan to whisk riders along at 220 miles an hour, making the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles in a little over two and a half hours, the project promised to attract most of the necessary billions from private investors, to operate without ongoing subsidies and to charge fares low enough to make it competitive with cheap flights. With those assurances, 53.7 percent ofvoters said yes to a $9.95 billion bond referendum to get the project started. But the assurances were at best wishful thinking, at worst an elaborate con.

  • Dear Secretary Foxx, (Anthony Foxx is the United States Secretary of Transportation)

    I have been contacted by a constituent who has brought to my attention news reports of illegal and unethical behavior by the Louis Berger Group, Inc., and some of its affiliated entities, while working as a contractor to various U.S. governmennt agencies. My understanding is that the Louis Berger Group is a current contractor with the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

    According to a statement released last year by the World Bank, the Louis Berger Group was debarred by the Bank for "engaging in corrupt practices under two Bank-financed projects in Vietnam." The Bank also imposed a one-year conditional non-debarment on Berger Group Holdings, Inc., the Louis Berger Group's corporate parent.

  • High-speed rail is turning out to be a slow-speed proposition. The first segment of California’s first-in-the-nation bullet-train project, currently scheduled for completion in 2018, will not be done until the end of 2022, according to a contract revision the Obama administration quietly approved this morning. That initial 119-mile segment through the relatively flat and empty Central Valley was considered the easiest-to-build stretch of a planned $64 billion line, which is eventually supposed to zip passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in under three hours. So the four-year delay is sure to spark new doubts about whether the state’s—and perhaps the nation’s—most controversial and expensive infrastructure project will ever reach its destination. “Four years? It just shows that something deep inside this project has gone terribly wrong,” says state legislator Jim Patterson, a Fresno Republican who recently shepherded a bill to increase oversight of high-speed rail through the Democratic-controlled assembly. “The time is coming where we’re going to have to call a halt.”
  • THE CORPS HAS DEFERRED ITS DECISION ON WHETHER TO GRANT ENVIRONMENTAL PERMITS TO ALL ABOARD FLORIDA AND IS REQUIRING A RESPONSE FROM AAF WITHIN 30 DAYS. THE ACOE HAS TAKEN THE COMMENTS FROM THE PUBLIC, INCLUDING COMMENTS BY CITIZENS AGAINST THE TRAIN/THE GUARDIANS OF MARTIN COUNTY, SERIOUSLY.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) circulated a public notice for the proposed action on April 11, 2016. The comments received during the public notice period are enclosed. In addition to the numerous letters of objection received, Indian River and Martin Counties have identified data gaps in the dredge and fill plans and wetland delineation maps provided in your Department of Army (DA) application. Several objectors are disputing the Alternatives Analysis defined in the All Aboard Florida (AAF) Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) as well as the public interest of the proposed action. Some objectors have sited increased noise, increased vibration, reduction in public safety, and property value reduction as their primary objection.

News & Updates