Publish Date: 
Thursday, August 21, 2014 - 11:15am

BY Henry A. Stephens August 19, 2014 TCPALM

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- The County Commission Tuesday derailed a request from All Aboard Florida that would have left county taxpayers responsible for maintaining a second track and safety features the passenger rail project plans to add.

“Not just no, but hell no,” County Commissioner Bob Solari said in his motion.
Commissioners voted 5-0 to reject All Aboard’s request to come in as a third party on leases the county already has with Florida East Coast Railway, a sister company of All Aboard and owner of the land under the tracks.

Those leases tend to favor the track owner, requiring county taxpayers to spend about $270,000 a year to maintain the crossings and replace signals, county attorney Dylan Reingold said.

If All Aboard were to be a third party in the same leases, he said, that would make the county responsible for the upkeep of All Aboard’s work in making the freight tracks safe for passengers.

Rather, commissioners authorized Reingold to negotiate with All Aboard and FEC to revise the leases to reflect the increased costs of maintaining the crossings after All Aboard expands them.

One of the changes All Aboard is to make to the rail line is adding a second track.

All Aboard has agreed to pay to lay the second track, along with any state-required safety improvements, case records show.

But county Public Works Director Chris Mora estimated the second track, even if All Aboard pays to place it, would cost the county an additional $280,768 a year to maintain the expansion at all 21 crossings.

And All Aboard attorneys have said the company’s costs of laying the new track won’t include paying to make the crossings into quiet zones, or crossings with such advanced safety features that trains don’t have to sound horns.

All Aboard expects to link Miami and Orlando by rail, using 16 trains a day on round trips. They would not stop on the Treasure Coast, and would reach speeds of up to 110 mph rolling through area crossings.