Publish Date: 
Tuesday, April 23, 2019 - 9:15am

Train Wreck Times by Susan Mehiel

Excellent News and lots of Positive Exposure!

We’re pleased to report we had major success in Brevard County recently. After talking to the Board of County Commissioners at their meeting at the end of March, we were contacted by Commissioner Tobia who offered to sponsor a resolution regarding the AAF safety issues. We were pleased to work with his staff to produce a resolution.

On April 9, in what turned out to be a marathon session starting at 5 pm and running until 11 pm (!), the attached Resolution was passed by a vote of 4 to 1. Although edited during the meeting, the Resolution still carries our most important messages to the Governor and Secretary of Transportation:

The Brevard County Board of County Commissioners fully supports Florida Senator Debbie Mayfield’s request that the Florida Department of Transportation immediately accept the findings of the OPPAGA study and develop regulations governing higher speed passenger trains.

We want to thank Commissioner Tobia and all of the other commissioners who supported the resolution. If you live in the county, please call or write your commissioners and let them know you’re pleased with their support and their concern for the health and safety of county residents. There are 80 at-grade crossings in Brevard County and many are crossed by pedestrians every day. Sealed corridor treatments including fencing should be required by FDOT at the very least.

You can easily contact the Governor and reiterate the Brevard County message by going to the CATT website –– and using their online letter campaign. You can send one of their sample letters or draft your own. Our goal is to get 750 letters sent to the Governor and yours could easily be the one that puts us over the top!   It’s our goal to show Tallahassee our entire region is demanding action! Please do it today!

The Brevard meeting generated positive media exposure as did another article. As you may recall, our friends at Americans for Limited Government sent out this article which was picked up by the Sonora News:

The article, questioning the tax subsidies for the Virgin Trains boondoggle, questioning ridership demand and tying it to AOC’s Green New Deal inspired this reply from a reader:

Not to be outdone – I submitted this reply to Mr. Mann: It’s been fun, to say the least!

We recently had a legal update from Dylan Reingold, IRC Attorney. On April 10, the county filled an appellate brief in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit methodically outlining how the Virgin Trains passenger railroad project is not eligible for financing through tax-exempt PABs. And although there are many detrimental environmental impacts from the project, IRC also honed in on the federal government’s failure to take a hard look under NEPA at the public safety and noise impacts of the Virgin Trains project. As noted in the brief, the NEPA documents fail “to acknowledge what is firmly established by the record: that bullet trains pose a deadly danger to pedestrians and that according to the observation of FRA’s own field engineer, trespassing is epidemic along this densely settled, unfenced rail corridor.”

The federal defendants and Virgin Trains will have until June 6th to file their brief.  The IRC final brief will be due on June 27th.

The County’s other lawsuit in the local Florida court challenging the requirement that we pay maintenance fees to FECR/Grupo Mexico for upgrades required by a totally separate company, Virgin Trains, had its venue changed. The corporations complained that they don’t have any business offices in the county and the judge agreed, moving the lawsuit to the court in Jacksonville. The distance will not have much impact on the county’s ability to process the case.

Although the winter season is winding down, we are just gearing up! We will be launching a social media advertising campaign soon and making plans for a fall blitz of the region with Train Update Forums and more action in Tallahassee and Washington, DC. We are looking for volunteers to help organize updates in their counties. If you would like to help with selecting a venue, promoting the event and helping with other details, please contact us. You can do so by responding to this email or calling Sally Dillon at 772-778-2832. You can also “instant message” us on our Facebook page.

GOOD NEWS! You can easily support our efforts at our website – – see our Donation page where you can now use a credit card or Pay Pal account rather than sending a check. We are in the process of becoming a 501 C4, which allows us to be a non-profit for tax purposes but you won’t be able to deduct your donations as you can with a 501 C3. Every little (and big) bit helps!

Our fight never stops! From supporting the county’s legal battle to contacting the Governor… we will continue to call on every elected official and bureaucrat to Make Them Safe and protect the lives and livelihoods of Florida residents. We have no choice but to stay the course and we know you are with us.

Keep up the good work,

Susan Mehiel
Florida Alliance for Safe Trains