MAYFIELD'S PROPOSED HIGH-SPEED RAIL REGULATIONS : DRIVEN BY SAFETY CONCERNS OR POLITICS

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 11:30am


Original Article and image by Ed Dean of Sunshine State News


Since 2014, All Aboard Florida and Brightline have been pursuing to expand their tracks along the Space Coast and the Treasure Coast. However, Sen Debbie Mayfield's "The Florida High-Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act" bill may slow their ambitious plans.


This bill is also gaining traction, as it was cleared the Senate of Transportation Committee.


This proposal would make high-speed rail companies such as AAF and Brightline pay for the installation of safety measures, including fencing along high-pedestrian areas along the tracks. This would also make the train companies develop safety measures focused on train engineers and gate malfunctions.


Citizens Against Rail Expansion (CARE) Chairman Brent Hanlon states that Mayfield's bill will ensure people's safety at these high-speed rail crossing across the state.


However, some question the merit of this legislation.


"Is this bill really about safety or is it about politics?" Cocoa Mayor Henry Parrish asked.


AAF believes this legislation is also politically motivated, stating "On behalf of rail opponents who have been unsuccessful in federal and state courts, [this bill] is a clear thinly-veiled attempt to stop a private passenger rail project from using its private property."


Mayfield insists that the proposal would "set up the framework for high-speed rail safety in Florida" and is not targeting a specific party.


Vice president of government affairs for All Aboard Florida Rusty Roberts disagrees. "The senator.... insisted her bill was about statewide regulation of high-speed rail, not about one company. But in explaining her bill, she repeatedly referenced All Aboard Florida as the subject of her regulatory scheme, then catching herself to include other high-speed rail systems."


Of course, no other high-speed rail systems currently operate or are being contemplated in Florida.