Publish Date: 
Friday, September 5, 2014 - 2:15pm

Letter from Ingrid M. Van Hekken, Fort Pierce to TCPalm

In 2012 AAF applied for approval with the National Transportation Board, a division of the federal Department of Transportation, which oversees railroads. This board determined that the AAF project was strictly intrastate, had no effect on interstate commerce, and was deemed a state project. AAF withdrew their application after successfully winning the argument with the NTB that they did not fall under federal auspices.

State or local governments typically require mitigation of any adverse effects private projects would have on the public. If the adverse effects could not be adequately mitigated, they would deny the project. With all railroads, the state is tasked by federal authorities to work with the railroad to ensure safety at crossings, maintain those crossings, and to set the speed at which trains can enter a crossing.

Quiet zones, as pertains to interstate commerce, are not required to be funded by the railroads, as the cost could interfere with that commerce.

As a state project, with the cost not affecting interstate commerce, federal rules don't apply. The state has the authority to either stop the project entirely, or require AAF to mitigate, at their own expense, any adverse effects of the expansion they create. Forcing taxpayers to mitigate damage from a private business is ludicrous.

When AAF, a private business, applied for a federal loan under the Federal Railroad Rehabilitation Act, an environmental impact study was required, hereby causing the current state of confusion.

So who has governmental oversight of this project?

Today's politicians will not answer questions they already know the answers to because of fear and greed — fear they may lose votes if the public knew the truth, and greed because they might lose a big payday from AAF.