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Politics

In? ?2015,? ?All Aboard Florida is Far from ?'?The Party Train?'

February 16, 2015 - 6:00pm

To political groups,? ?community activists and homeowners' associations,? ?All Aboard Florida is about as popular as the subject of Obamacare to Republicans and Gov. Rick Scott to Democrats.

The project from Miami to Orlando has already begun construction in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and it shows no signs of slowing down.?

Some apparently are ready to get on board.

In Brevard County? t?he Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization will study potential train stations.?

Thursday morning,? ?the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization unanimously voted to scrutinize potential station locations along the planned All Aboard Florida route through Brevard," All Aboard Florida noted on its website.

Even? t?he Canaveral Port Authority is hopping aboard, planning to use $50,000 for a train station study to be voted on during its March? ?18 meeting.

Local groups are going out of their way to get involved, but there is one small problem:? ?Currently,? ?All Aboard Florida has no plans to make any stops between West Palm Beach and Orlando.?

In an effort to win local support,? ?AAF has agreed to conduct a ridership study to determine a site's economic feasibility for a train station stop.

Opponents of the train expansion have accused AAF of having private meetings with elected officials,? including dangling? promises to have stops in certain communities in return for public officials throwing their support behind the high-speed train.?? But? ?AAF has continued to insist there are no plans for additional stops.

Opposition nevertheless is rising against AAF. Both Martin and Indian River counties are planning to put up millions of dollars in legal action to fight the train.?

?Martin County is dedicating? ?$1.4? ?million and Indian River County wants to commit? ?$2.7? ?million to challenge AAF in court.

Here's the snag: The counties arent specific on what issue they would challenge -- noise, environmental damage, property values, traffic, safety concerns? All continue to be raised by AAFs opposition.

Indian River County Commissioner Bob Solari said the trains will? ?do harm? ?to? ?communities along the Treasure Coast,? b?ut he didnt expand on what that harm would be.? ?Martin County Commissioner John Haddox said his motion for funds? ?for the lawsuit was? ?intentionally broad.??

In the meantime, with so much up in the air, the battle over high-speed rail in Florida shows no signs of winding down in the short run. Thirty years after the Gap Band's song "Party Train," this is anything but.


Ed Dean, radio talk show host across Florida, is a senior editor for Sunshine State News.

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