AAF'S PENDING DEADLINE TO SELL BONDS IS MEANINGLESS AND MOVEABLE

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, December 22, 2015 - 3:30pm

RICH CAMPBELL - TCPALM

Don't you hate deadlines?

Generally, if you miss a deadline you pay some sort of penalty. Penalties can run the gamut from additional costs — such as those incurred when filing a late tax return — to forfeiting the chance to obtain health insurance, student financial aid or other forms of government assistance.

However, there is a different set of rules for a private corporation seeking to complete a major transportation project — one that fits nicely into the federal government's long-term plan to expand passenger rail service.

All Aboard Florida — aka Brightline — is facing a Jan. 1 deadline to sell $1.75 billion of tax-exempt bonds to help finance its Miami-to-Orlando passenger rail project. The rail company has requested an extension from the U.S. Department of Transportation, which allocates bonds for such projects.

Is there any doubt the Department of Transportation will extend the deadline?

None whatsoever.

If you're pinning your hopes of stopping the project on the expiration of the Jan. 1 deadline, prepare to be disappointed. The federal government has been greasing the skids for this project from the beginning. Uncle Sam isn't about to let something as benign as a deadline get in the way.

Remember: The Department of Transportation moved the original deadline from July 1 to Jan. 1. No doubt it is poised to extend the deadline again.

Several factors have frustrated All Aboard Florida's efforts to sell the bonds in a timely manner. These include the size of the offering and a slowdown in the corporate bond market.

The rail company needs more time to market and sell the bonds. And the federal government is philosophically obligated to comply with the request.