“Seconds matter,” say hospital officials concerned about All Aboard Florida’s rail project

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, October 7, 2014 - 1:15pm

By Jennifer Sorentrue Palm Beach Post

All Aboard Florida’s express passenger train service could make it more difficult for people to reach Jupiter Medical Center, creating a public safety hazard for residents in the county’s northern section, hospital officials and elected leaders said Tuesday.

John Couris, president and CEO of Jupiter Medical Center, said the hospital is not opposed transportation improvements, but said he has “real concerns” about All Aboard Florida’s plan to add 32 trains a day to the Florida East Coast Railway tracks.

The FEC tracks sit just east of the hospital. Ambulances responding to calls east of the facility must cross the tracks to get patients to the emergency room.

“The hospital is not opposed to transportation improvements for the state of Florida that are well thought out and that involve everyone,” Couris said. “But we have some real concerns around the public safety aspects of what they are proposing.”

Couris said All Aboard Florida officials have not met with hospital leaders to discuss their plans.

“Seconds matter in every emergency,” Couris said. “We are concerned about response times. We are also concerned that All Aboard Florida never came to us to discuss the issue related to public safety.”

Couris made the comments at a press conference held this morning by Citizens Against Rail Expansion, a coalition of Treasure Coast and Jupiter residents opposed to All Aboard Florida’s project.

In response to the press conference, All Aboard Florida released the following statement:

“The Draft Environmental Impact Statement published by the Federal Railroad Administration states the project will have an ‘overall beneficial effect on public health, safety and security.’

All Aboard Florida will add two passenger trains an hour. Each train will be approximately 900’ in length and take less than 50 seconds to clear an intersection. We are upgrading every grade crossing and installing new signalization and Positive Train Control, which will result in decreased wait times at grade crossings and increased efficiencies.

As is the case around the nation — and in South Florida where more than 50 TriRail trains operate on the South Florida Rail Corridor — we will work with emergency personnel to conduct joint trainings, ensure impacts are minimized and coordination occurs at every level.”