By Arnie Rosenberg , Aug 4, 2014 TCPalm
Gov. Rick Scott on Monday echoed a call for All Aboard Florida to sit down and listen to its opponents.
In a campaign appearance before the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce, Scott said he has tried to get All Aboard Florida officials to communicate better with the groups, public officials and government bodies that have raised concerns about the $2.25 billion project.
“What I’ve tried to make sure happens is that All Aboard takes the time to sit down, and listens to make sure everybody’s voices are heard,” Scott said. “And I’m going to continue to make sure that happens.”
In response, All Aboard Florida issued a prepared statement: “With a project as complex as All Aboard Florida, we believe it is important to educate the community about the facts of the project and its many aspects, which is why we have conducted more than 600 meetings with community and business groups since this project was first announced.
All Aboard Florida — the proposed high-speed passenger rail project linking Miami and Orlando — has been criticized for seeking a $1.5 billion federal loan and for its plan to lease space for its Orlando station in a state-funded transportation hub at Orlando International Airport. All Aboard Florida officials stress that the project will be privately built and operated. Both Scott and his transportation secretary, Ananth Prasad, continue to say there will be no state investment in the project.
His comments Monday come on the heels of a visit by Prasad last week to the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County. Accompanied by top officials of the Florida Department of Transportation, he met with opposition groups, notably Florida Not All Aboard, and numerous public officials.
Prasad came away saying All Aboard Florida had “a communication and information gap,” and the company hadn’t spent enough time listening to its critics. He called on the railroad’s top officials to “meet face-to-face and work through these issues.”
Scott said it’s important for All Aboard Florida to “make sure they address the concerns that people have. ... That’s why I’ve made sure Secretary Prasad has come down here and has talked to the All Aboard folks, to make sure that happens.”