When residents from Miami to West Palm Beach realize what 32 more railroad closings (16 runs both ways) per day will do to traffic around Dixie Highway, they will be appalled. There are approximately 30 road crossings of the FEC tracks in Martin County alone, 28 of which are in moderately dense urbanized areas. In 2012 there were over 4,800 peak hourly crossings of traffic at Jensen Beach Blvd., Confusion Corner, Monterey Road, Salerno Road, and Bridge Road. Multiply this times the entire train route along Florida's East Coast. All Aboard Florida's paper calculations on train induced delays do not add up: the train would have to slow down going through several downtown areas because of sharp turns, which is where most of the traffic is. But let's not quibble about the math - the result is clearly.....more traffic congestion!
OUR CONCERNS ABOUT ALL ABOARD FLORIDA
We have 16 trains a day now, and All Aboard Florida is going to make it 50 (counting passenger and freight trains). 32 additional high speed trains running on FEC tracks that nearly divide many of the Florida's East Coast communities in half could create major delays for ambulances headed to a life-or-death emergency. These trains will do 16 round trips which means 3-4 trains will run each hour from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. There are approximately 30 road crossings of the FEC tracks in Martin County alone, 28 of which are in moderately dense urbanized areas. Multiply this problem up and down the other counties up and down Florida's East Coast.
Former Swiss resident Sebastian Schmid of Vero Beach had this to say about his experiences of living near a high speed train: "The noise of a high speed train approaching and passing at more than 110 miles per hour wakes up everybody sleeping and frightens children, elderly people and animals. In a way, it sounds like a jet plane passing at low altitude." Read full letter here. Unless expensive countermeasures are taken (via the tax dollars of local citizens), the Federal Railway Administration requires engineers begin sounding train horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, in advance of all public at-grade crossings. Conductors normally must sound the horns for at least 15 seconds before each crossing. Horns must be repeated or prolonged until the lead locomotive or lead cab car occupies the crossing.
The crash shown here happened in a safety corridor in Spain. There are no safety zones planned for Florida East Coast corridor.
Adding 32 trains with 353 grade crossings over 195 miles in densely populated urban cities and towns is an increase in crossing risk three times greater than our current freight experience. The impact on communities north of West Palm Beach, where the tracks run through the center of towns, is detrimental. Start with 110-mile-per-hour trains sending debris flying onto pedestrians, bikers and cars. AAF does not want to follow sealed corridor guidelines as outlined in FRA's Highway-Rail Grade Crossing Guidelines for High-Speed Passenger Rail!
- First there is the cost of tax payers dollars for a Federal loan of a reported $1,875,000,000.00 dollars. The public is being bribed with its own money.
- Second is the cost of upgrading more than 300 train Intersections along the East Coast of Florida at an estimated $150,000 to $250,000 per intersection – paid for by local citizens. To quiet train horns, communities along the FEC tracks will have to pay to improve railroad crossings. All Aboard Florida says it will make safety upgrades but has stopped short of agreeing to pay for extended gates, raised medians and other protective structures needed to meet federal “quiet zone” standards.
- Third is the ongoing cost of maintenance. At a time of unprecedented national debt and declining condition of our existing roads, highways and bridges, Florida citizens will be required to pay for subsidizing this rail train that only stops in West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Passenger train services have been money-losers in the U.S. for more than half a century. Most railroad companies dropped passenger service in the early 1970s, after the federal government eased requirements that they carry them, and established the publicly funded Amtrak instead. Today not a single private passenger-rail service still operates. All of the operating and capital costs are highly subsidized by the government. Amtrak has had almost $40 billion in subsidies during its existence and routinely needs more than $1 billion each year to continue operating. Our local Tri-Rail receives more than $40 million per year in subsidies from local taxes and State funding. Amtrak and Tri-Rail continue to hemorrhage money. Somehow the magic of All Aboard Florida will change all that. How?
- Last, Gov. Rick Scott pledged $213.5 million in State money to expand a terminal in Orlando for a station and maintenance facility. It will be beautiful….and expensive and aren't private American workers in debt enough already?
- Question of the day: How do you design a rail system if you don't know how many people will ride it? "It drives everything – how many tracks, how many parking spots, how many everything..."
Fortress Hedge Fund's monetary gain is only possible by tearing apart the fabric of communities throughout the Florida's east coast. High speed rail is conceptually an attractive idea, bringing visions of traffic reductions, energy savings and fast transport, but not when the trains run through the middle of residential communities that don’t even benefit. The recurring funding necessary to maintain high speed rail will drive our taxes up and vibrations and noise from the trains will reduce our property values. We should put our tax dollars to work improving the current transportation infrastructure. If high speed rail is in Florida’s future, take the time to devise a sound plan that discloses all the real expenses with properly constructed safety corridors.
All Aboard Florida passenger-rail service would compound local drawbridge closures. Take a moment to consider the effects 32 additional train crossings would have on mariners waiting to pass the Florida East Coast drawbridge in Stuart. There are also train bridges on the New River, Loxahatchee River, and the St. Lucie River. The time the bridge takes to complete its cycle from locking down well in advance of a train and opening long after it passes creates an enormous problem for boaters, businesses, and residents located west of the trestles. The facts provided by the Jupiter Inlet Navigation District indicate a typical 20 minute wait for a passing train with some lasting as long as 1.5 hours.