Publish Date: 
Tuesday, April 28, 2015 - 5:15pm

Thomas Hewitt, V. Michael Ferdinandi and Martin County, Florida,
United States Department of Transportation, Anthony Foxx, Secretary of the United States Department of Transportation and Peter M. Rogoff, Undersecretary of the United States Department of Transportation,
Summary:  This lawsuit was filed on April 20, 2015 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.  Plaintiffs, Thomas Hewitt and V. Michael Ferdinandi are residents of Palm Beach County, Florida.  Plaintiffs along with Martin County, Florida dispute the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's (USDOT) December 22, 2014 approval to allocate $1.7 billion in private equity bonds to help finance All Aboard Florida's (AAF) high-speed passenger train proposal.  The lawsuit challenges the USDOT on two main grounds: that the tax-exempt activity bonds were illegally granted before the completion of a final environmental impact statement process, and that AAF's proposed project does not qualify for private activity bonds according to Florida law.  The court is being asked to nullify USDOT's approval of the bonds and permanently block the USDOT from approving private-activity bonds for AAF. 
All Aboard Florida's project proposes to send 32 high-speed (80-110 mph) passenger trains every day between Miami and Orlando's airport.  The trains would mostly travel along Florida East Coast Railway's existing tracks and right of way on the east coast of Florida.
This lawsuit follows a similar one filed on March 31, 2015 by Indian River County, Florida in the same federal district court.  However, this is the first time that Palm Beach County residents have challenged AAF's high-speed train proposal.  In discussing his justification for filing this lawsuit, Plaintiff Ferdinandi said:  "For us, it a quality-of-life issue as well as a safety issue."