June 2014

18th District Congressional Candidate Brian Lara opposes ‘All Aboard Florida’

TAXPAYERS MUST NOT GRANT LOAN GUARANTEES TO MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR RAILROAD

NEWS RELEASE
Thursday, June 26, 2014

TAXPAYERS MUST NOT GRANT LOAN GUARANTEES TO MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR RAILROAD

Source Article Here

Negron vows to try to block state money for All Aboard Florida

By Isadora Rangel June 26, 2014 Full Article At the TCPalm

State Sen. Joe Negron officially boarded the anti All Aboard Florida train Thursday, vowing to try to block any state money the company might ask in the future.

Negron, the Senate budget chief, made the commitment after reading a Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers report about the high-speed train company’s plans to seek a $44 million state grant to connect its service with Tri-Rail in Miami.

All Aboard Florida on fast track to controversy

By Michael Mayo, full article at the Sun Sentinel

When he hands out pamphlets questioning what All Aboard Florida might do to Delray Beach and other coastal cities in southern Palm Beach County, Alan Schlossberg said the reaction is usually the same.

"People say, 'I had no idea this is going on,' " Schlossberg told me Wednesday.

Citizens Speak Up Against Florida All Aboard

"But please explain how the statement: 'The document also reveals All Aboard Florida plans to seek a $44 million state grant to connect its service with Tri-Rail in Miami' intercalates with AAF's claim of 'No Taxpayer Money' used for the boondoggle?

Investors Take on Risky Fortress Bond Sale at 12%

By Natalie Harrison and Shankar Ramakrishnan Reuters Fri Jun 20, 2014

Investment management firm Fortress stunned the market this week by selling a deeply subordinated payment-in-kind (PIK) toggle note to finance a new Florida passenger railway service.

Investors took on considerable risk - on top of the already risky PIK structure - as there is no cashflow until the project, already facing some political push-back, is up and running.

All Aboard Florida documents reveal ticket price

By Kimberly Miller Friday, June 20, 2014 Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

"Richard Radcliffe, executive director for the Palm Beach County League of Cities says. "If it’s $23 from Miami and then $50 to Orlando, then we’ll just rent a car. Considering they are trying to go for federal money, you would hope there would be tremendous transparency.”

A private prospectus for All Aboard Florida’s successful $405 million bond sale this week discloses information regarding the company’s ridership estimates and ticket costs, according to a report from TCPalm.

All Aboard Florida Reveals that Freight Traffic Will Grow, Seeking $44 Million State Grant and Schedule Delays Could Cause Loan Default

By Arnie Rosenberg and Matt Dixon  Posted June 20, 2014 See entire source Article at TCPalm

"All Aboard Florida officials have consistently declined any comment about freight, but the bond document pulls back the curtain on their expectation: freight traffic along the corridor will grow. And more-than-expected growth could be a problem, according to the document.

All Aboard Florida files suit to block agencies from releasing 'sensitive' documents

By Arnie Rosenberg From TCPalm June 16, 2014 at 6:37 p.m

All Aboard Florida has gone to court to block public release of its most sensitive information, its financial and ridership projections.

Citizens Respond to All Aboard Florida's suit to block agencies from releasing 'sensitive' documents

"The Freedom of Information Act is a good tool for citizens. If a company is doing business with any agency, Federal, State, County or Municipal, the citizens deserve the right to know. Take that FOIA away, reject all of the funding requested from the company.
Ridership studies quoted (relative to AAF's own pre-ridership study) http://ftp.dot.state.tx.us/pub/txdot-..."

Fortress lines up rare project finance high-yield deal fro All Aboard Florida

By Natalie Harrison and Mariana Santibanez,  Reuters - Source Article at UK Focus – Wed, Jun 4, 2014

NEW YORK (Frankfurt: HX6.F - news) , June 4 (IFR) - Investment management firm Fortress is looking to sell a payment-in-kind toggle bond that could let it stump up less equity to finance a new Florida passenger railway service.

St. Lucie County Commission passes resolution opposing All Aboard Florida

 By Keona Gardner June 17, 2014 Source Article at TCPalm

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — If All Aboard Florida officials were to propose a stop in St. Lucie County or elsewhere on the Treasure Coast, St. Lucie County Commissioners said they would still oppose the project.

In a 5-0 vote Tuesday, the commission approved a resolution that called the $2.25 billion high-speed passenger train “a threat to the public health, safety and welfare.”

All Aboard Florida, a unit of Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG), plans to borrow $405 million

By Caroline Chen and Toluse Olorunnipa Jun 16, 2014 Source Article at Bloomberg

All Aboard Florida, a unit of Fortress Investment Group LLC (FIG), plans to borrow $405 million to help finance a high-speed railway along the state’s eastern coast over the opposition of some local residents.

Pedestrian hit and killed by Amtrak train in Florida

David Williams, First Coast News 5:35 p.m

CLAY COUNTY, Fla. -- An unidentified man was hit and killed by an Amtrak train Monday morning, according to the Clay County Sheriff's Office.

Amtrak spokesperson, Steve Kulm, said Amtrak 97 Silver Meteor train left New York Sunday heading to Miami. Just before 11 a.m., the train struck the man in the 4400 block of Cedar Road.

Quote from the Congressional Research Service Regarding Development of High Speed Rail

QUOTE FROM THE CONGRESSIONAL RESEARCH SERVICE REGARDING THE FOLLY OF DEVELOPMENT OF HIGH SPEED RAIL

Published December 30, 2013 By David Randall Peterman, Coordinator & Analyst in Transportation Policy, John Frittelli, Specialist in Transportation Policy, William J. Mallett, Specialist in Transportation Policy

All Aboard Florida can't meet international standards

Harry James Bruce, former President of Ilinois Central Railroad -Palm Beach Gardens Letter to the Editor - TCPalm By HarryBruce Thursday, May 29, 2014

High speed passenger rail service, when justified, can be a marvelous achievement to satisfy the mobility requirements of a densely populated society. The passenger trains of Japan, England, Germany, France and Spain are outstanding examples of fast, safe, luxurious train travel.

Retrofitting rails for All Aboard Florida will not work

Letter to the Editor: June 11th, 2014 Harry James Bruce, Palm Beach Gardens Source Article Miami Herald

High-speed passenger rail service, when justified, can be a marvelous achievement to satisfy the mobility requirements of a densely populated society.

California High Speed Rail Project Ratchets Up To 68 BILLION

By Ralph Vartabedian Source Article at The LA Times

When California voters approved $9 billion in funding for a bullet train in 2008, the ballot measure included the strictest engineering and spending controls ever placed on a major state project.

St. Lucie County poised to declare All Aboard Florida threat to public

By Arnie Rosenberg Posted June 13, 2014 Source Article Here at TCPalm

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — County commissioners are poised to go on record Tuesday against All Aboard Florida.

One resolution on their agenda would formalize the county’s opposition to the $2.25 billion high-speed passenger-train project, calling it a threat to the public health, safety and welfare.

What the Citizens of Stuart Say About All Aboard Florida

"There isn't a chance that these trains will ever stop on the Treasure Coast. Contrary to the vague comments from the Railroad. The whole purpose of this train is to move large numbers of people from Miami to Orlando for the benefit of Disney World. To add additional stops would extend the trip beyond 3 hrs which is not acceptable to the Railroad. In addition to the numerous downsides for the Treasure Coast involving economics, safety and quality of life issues the additional problems in downtown Stuart will severely impact growth in the area."

Eye Witness News investigates Orlando to Miami 'casino express' train

Source article here at WFTV

By the end of the decade, travelers into and out of Orlando International Airport will have a new option when it comes to getting to south Florida: high speed rail.

How many railroad crossings will close for new downtown passenger train service?

By Ann Henson Feltgen, BrowardBulldog.org

New downtown passenger train service that will speed users from Orlando to South Florida and back may sound like a tourism dream come true, but there’s a potentially unexpected cost to local residents.

Local governments face increased costs to maintain the areas where their roads cross the tracks and some fear the closing of smaller crossings to vehicular traffic to save money.

All Aboard Florida Addresses Noise Concerns in Letter to Congressman Patrick Murphy

By Chris Joseph Wed., Apr. 23 2014 at 7:30 AM

All Aboard Florida, the private rail service that plans on running a passenger train from Miami to Orlando with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, has written a letter to its biggest South Florida critic, addressing some of the bigger concerns.

Not everyone on board with Florida fast-rail project

By Barbara Liston un. 10, 2014, 7:15 PM

ORLANDO Fla. (Reuters) - A privately financed high-speed train connection linking Orlando and Miami is facing mounting opposition in Florida from communities the train will pass without stopping.

Almost a dozen small towns and counties on Florida’s east coast, mainly in the route's middle section, have passed or are considering resolutions or letters of concern about the All Aboard Florida rail link, citing traffic, environmental and financial concerns.

Would All Aboard Florida derail Stuart's downtown?

By Arnie Rosenberg Posted June 11, 2014 at 10:47 p.m. from TCPalm

STUART — Two years from now, it’s likely that 32 passenger trains will amble through downtown every day, day-in and day-out. No one yet fully understands how it would affect downtown Stuart. But it’s already generally accepted here — often with resignation — that a tripling of train traffic through the heart of the city can mean nothing good.

Letter from K.C. Traylor of Florida Not All Aboard in response to Governor Rick Scott

By K.C. Traylor, Florida NOT All Aboard

Dear Governor Scott. Reading a copy of your recent letter to Mr. Michael Reininger, President of All Aboard Florida, has meant a lot to us. First, I want to thank you for your sensitivity to our concerns about All Aboard Florida. We need the support of our leaders because we are simply a grass roots movement facing very powerful interests.

And the Citizens Against the Train Respond to Why All Aboard Florida will fail financially


The train also has to compete with the cost of a rental car. A full size car rental at the Orlando Airport is only $168.00 for seven days.

Don't forget that passenger rail service on FEC has failed TWICE...actually 3 TIMES if you include the debacle when Ed Ball ran FEC. That was when people actually rode the trains.Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

Gov. Rick Scott supports controversial rail project on Florida's east coast

TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott, who faced intense criticism for rejecting federal money for high-speed rail from Tampa to Orlando, has new train troubles for favoring a controversial rail project on Florida's east coast.

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The Buzz at Tampa Bay Herald: Scott wants 'detailed conversation' on All Aboard Florida project

By Steve Bousquet

Gov. Rick Scott on Monday called on developers of a private railroad project to take more steps in response to questions and concerns of residents living who may be affected by All Aboard Florida, the first passenger train service on Florida's east coast in five decades.

And the Citizens Against the Train Respond

The whole project is a financial boondoggle, it is designed to benefit the properties which Flagler Development owns in downtown Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. As for the expanded shipping in and out of Miami, it probably will never happen because of geographic factors. Miami is in the wrong place and it is too far from manufacturers or other major markets. No one is going to ship their goods for hundreds of extra miles by costly rail when they can do it a lot cheaper by going through Ports to the North and in the Gulf. These are factors no one in Florida can control.

Scott jumps off fast-moving All Aboard train plan

By Frank Cerabino Palm Beach Post 5:46 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, 2014 Source Article Here At Palm Beach Post

When it comes to passenger rail ventures in Florida, Gov. Rick Scott has played many roles.
He started out a principled foe, then turned into a cheering participant, and this week he debuted his new position as a concerned bystander.

Scott clarifies no state subsidies for All Aboard Florida

Posted: 5:24 p.m. Tuesday, June 10, 2014
By Kimberly Miller - Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

Florida Gov. Rick Scott made it clear this week that All Aboard Florida’s express passenger rail service will receive no state subsidies and said he supports giving communities more time to comment on the $2.5 billion project.
In a Monday letter to All Aboard Florida President Michael Reininger, Scott clarifies that $10 million put in the state’s budget this year will go to local governments to pay for safety upgrades at train crossings, not All Aboard Florida.

Seriously, Scott, We Need More Than A Letter

Gov. Scott to All Aboard Florida: The Voices of Our Communities Must be Heard

On June 9, 2014, in News Releases, by Staff

Today, Governor Rick Scott sent the following letter to Michael Reininger, President of All Aboard Florida, urging All Aboard Florida to listen to the voices of local communities as they plan their private-sector rail service. The letter is available below and online here.

 

June 9, 2014

Mr. Michael Reininger

Thomas Campenni Speaks Against All Aboard Florida

Says Thomas Campemmi:

Now, a railroad that we are told can do just about whatever it wants because of rights granted and laws promulgated in the 19th century. Never mind that entire counties, peoples and cities have happened in the intervening years. We are told we must accept our fate and be quiet. These are property rights and they are sacrosanct. What about the impact to OUR properties?

And Citizens Against The Train Agree

Safety concerns abound for All Aboard Florida. Thank you, Sir, for calling attention to this navigation matter. AAF should not be railroaded through without all safety concerns being properly addressed. Clearly, the more AAF issues that arise, the more apparent it is that the tracks must be moved off the water, away from the hearts of downtowns, and away from the 340+ at-grade crossings/ intersections with vehicles and pedestrians along the proposed AAF corridor.

Martin County Taxpayers Association: Questions remain about All Aboard Florida

Source article here

As All Aboard Florida continues with its plan for high speed passenger rail service from Miami to Orlando, bits and pieces of the plan have become more evident. Within a brief period of time that the public has become aware of the plan, most of the citizen concerns have been focused on public safety, noise and other quality of life issues.

Some Florida Residents Not All Aboard

Residents from Miami to West Palm Beach should wake up and realize what 32 more railroad closings a day will do to traffic around Dixie Highway.

The long-distance passenger train service, All Aboard Florida, is a great initiative and on its way. But can it please consider using the CSX tracks for trains north of West Palm Beach to Orlando?

Barreling through Brevard -Ayn Marie Samuelson, Guest columnist

By Ayn Marie Samuelson, Guest columnist for Florida Today

There are too many unknowns and hidden agendas to support All Aboard Florida's push for high-speed passenger rail by the newly incorporated Florida East Coast Industries, LLC (FECI).

FECI has applied for a $1.5 billion loan from the federal government under the Federal Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program. Pretty clever to go for the big dollars at taxpayer expense and risk, with no track record of success and insufficient assets on its own to secure this big-ticket loan.

Sebastian City Council angry at start of train survey work

BY SAMANTHA ROHLFING BAITA

The Sebastian City Council was very unhappy upon learning survey work on the controversial $1 billion All Aboard Florida project was already well under way along the tracks in Sebastian, without any prior notification to the city as had been promised, nor any impact data gathered from the municipalities that will be directly affected.

To make matters worse, Community Development Director and Engineer Frank Watanabe learned that two previous surveys had already taken place during the last few months, all unbeknownst to Sebastian officials.

What the Citizens Against The Train Say About Rick's Scott Support of AAF

I am a Treasure Coast resident. You all down in Miami don't know what kind of long-term damage this is going to do up here. We don't need it - no passenger service will ever be sustainable on its own. They all require subsidies. Into the future, this one will as well. Also, why is AAF starting work on the rails up here when the Federal Railroad Administration has not even released the Draft Environmental Impact Study? We haven't even gone to the "meetings" for public comment to the FRA before the Final Environmental Impact Study is to be released in 2 years. That's right.

Martin commissioners getting on board against All Aboard Florida

By Sally Swartz  - Source article here

The campaign against All Aboard Florida is picking up speed on the Treasure Coast. The proposed high-speed train would connect downtown Miami to Orlando International Airport, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach  and nowhere else.

Letter: Why All Aboard Florida will fail financially

Alice Johnson, Vero Beach. Source Article at TC Palm here.

Letter: Why All Aboard Florida will fail financially

I believe high-speed rail needs four things to be viable.

Opposition to All Aboard Florida picks up steam in Treasure Coast - Sally Schwartz

by Sally Swartz full article here: http://opinionzone.blog.palmbeachpost.com/2014/05/11/opposition-to-all-a...

When more than 350 angry people from five counties show up at a Florida NOT All Aboard rally in Stuart, it’s clear: Foes of high-speed trains rocketing through coastal communities are organizing and ready to fight.

What the Citizens Against The Train Say About the Debate

Public monies--taxpayer monies---at the federal, state, and local levels are being sought to fund this AAF boondoggle. While the AAF "infrastructure program is being instituted with private-sector dollars,” as Reininger says, in reality it's the public being squeezed to cough up safety and infrastructure systems for this quasi high speed rail that provides no economic benefits to 4 of the 8 counties it will travel through---but is quite the safety nightmare.

 

Debate over All Aboard Florida

Full story here: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2014/jun/01/debate-over-all-aboard-florida-wa...

WEST PALM BEACH — It was more a gentlemanly disagreement than a debate. But the two sides of the All Aboard Florida controversy had their opportunity to make their cases once again Sunday morning on WPTV’s “To the Point” program.

Rubio raises constituents' concerns about All Aboard Florida with federal rail agency

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Security, on June 3 raised constituent concerns regarding the ongoing All Aboard Florida project and SunRail, Central Florida’s new commuter rail system, according to a news release from Rubio's office.

What the Citizens Against The Train Say about the AAF Forum

Commissioner Smith, At the AAF Public Forum last Thursday at the Blake Library in Stuart, the last question to the panel from a woman in the audience was: "I would like to leave here on a positive note, so is there anything positive that AAF will bring to the Treasure Coast?" Silence. The moderator turned to Rusty Roberts from AAF and said: "Rusty?" More silence. And that is how the meeting ended.