TREASURE COAST STANDS STRONG AGAINST RAILROAD REBUFF - THIS IS NOT A DONE DEAL

Publish Date: 
Monday, January 26, 2015 - 5:45am

Palm Beach Post
The Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council was rebuffed last month in its request to meet with Federal Railroad Administration officials about All Aboard Florida. But it’s not taking no for an answer. Hackles raised, the group, which includes elected officials from Palm Beach County, said Friday it will pursue a second audience with FRA through U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who has opposed the express passenger rail service.

An FEC freight train crosses the drawbridge over the Loxahatchee River at 8:14 Tuesday morning, November 11, 2014. The bridge was ... Read More
The Federal Railroad Administration refused to meet with council representatives, saying the comment period for a draft environmental impact statement closed Dec. 3 and “it would not be appropriate to hold meetings with individuals or groups seeking to submit additional comments.”

But Michael Davis, vice chairman of the council and a former senior official with the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Interior, said the council doesn’t want to make additional comments, just ensure FRA understands the ones already sent.

“This group represents two million people who have expressed some pretty substantive concerns,” said Davis, who noted that personally he is not opposed to All Aboard Florida. “I sat in those chairs for a long time at a high level of the U.S. government and I don’t recall every declining an audience with a group like this.”

Some northern Palm Beach County and Treasure Coast residents have mounted an attack on the plans, citing concerns over safety at rail crossings, traffic delays and boater backups at aging drawbridges that must lower when trains cross.

All Aboard Florida has pledged to improve drawbridges to open and close more swiftly and install enhanced safety precautions at crossings, but questions remain.

Palm Beach Gardens City Councilmember Marcie Tinsley said Friday she was unsatisfied with All Aboard Florida’s answers to detailed questions the city asked in November.

“We received a two-page response of nothing,” Tinsley said. “It was pretty much fluff and marketing information that we’ve heard over and over and over again.”