Analysis: More than 800 turn out for All Aboard Florida public comment meeting in Stuart

Publish Date: 
Friday, October 31, 2014 - 4:30pm

By Arnie Rosenberg TCPalm

More than 800 people turned out for the Federal Railroad Administration’s meeting to gather public comment on the $2.25 billion plan for a high-speed Miami-to-Orlando passenger train. By the time the doors opened at 3:30 p.m., some 150 people already were waiting, and even more people packed into the Kane Center over the next two hours.

Not surprisingly, these folks overwhelmingly came to voice their objection to the project, which is to begin running through the Treasure Coast by early 2017.

Turnout was in marked contrast to meetings earlier this week in Miami, where 200 people attended; Fort Lauderdale, which had 250 come out; and West Palm Beach, where 272 people turned out Wednesday.

The mood of Stuart’s meeting — the fourth of eight identical sessions — was as much against the project as Miami’s and Fort Lauderdale’s were in favor.

Rather than put on community forums, a format many people clearly would have preferred, the FRA is hosting open-house meetings, where people circulate through the room and can chat with technical experts about each of the topic in the environmental impact statement. Comments, however, can be made only by email, regular mail, in writing at the public-comment meetings or verbally to a court reporter at the meetings.

Maybe that’s why so many people were eager to share their opinions.