In recent weeks, opponents of All Aboard Florida’s (AAF) Brightline project insist they have scored some major victories against the expansion of high-speed rail. Groups like Citizens Against The Train (CATT) have boasted the main reason why AAF’s expansion has slowed is because of taxpayer-funded lawsuits against the project.
AAF maintains it is continuing to expand and Brightline is on track. The company’s website chronicles the progress it claims to be making. As of December, Brightline’s first full train is complete and will be arriving in Florida soon. This first train will begin testing in Palm Beach County early this year.
In addition, the stations in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are 70 percent complete. The stations are undergoing interior work including HVAC, plumbing and other outfittings. At Miami Central, the installation of the Florida I-Beams (FIBS) for the elevated track is nearing completion. The three Miami Central office building have been topped off. Grade crossing improvements in Broward and Palm Beach counties are nearing completion.
But CATT and other opponents of the project insist this is just a smoke screen, that maintaining Brightline’s expansion is nowhere where it should be. CATT and other opponents insist their legal challenges have helped slow down the process.
AAF counters that this is to be expected when dealing government agencies, even as their permits with government entities like the South Florida Water Management District and the St. Johns River Water Management District are going through. But none of this impresses the opponents who say they will continue the fight using taxpayer dollars to stop the train.
Newly elected Indian River County Commissioner Susan Adams told the Republican Women of Indian River County that she does not support the train going through her neighborhood but that doesn’t mean she backs continued taxpayer-funded challenges to it.
Pointing to TC Palm’s top stories on the Treasure Coast for 2016, Lynch says if you look at them the “train controversy” didn’t even make the list.
Parrish told Sunshine State News he agrees and wonders why taxpayer funds are still being used to challenge the train project.
“If this isn’t the big issue that some make it out to be, then why are some elected officials continuing to push through unpopular taxpayer-funded lawsuits?" Parrish asked. “Who's driving this narrative?”