A Mason-Dixon poll released Thursday on attitudes toward All Aboard Florida (AAF) shows "an uncommon intensity of opposition" toward the Miami-to-Orlando high-speed rail project in the communities where the train won't stop.
Speaking for research firm Mason-Dixon in a morning conference call, Brad Coker told reporters, "The results speak loud and clear. An overwhelming four out of five registered voters on the Treasure Coast don't want this train coming through."
Coker added, Residents ... have serious doubts about the public safety and economic impact in their neighborhoods.
Elected officials, beware, say Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida (CARE FL), the Treasure Coast group that commissioned the poll: Some 65 percent of those surveyed are less likely to vote for local elected officials in the next election who support AAF.
Coker said he was particularly struck by the lopsided numbers in the survey's results:
- Not only did 80 percent of the survey sample of registered voters in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties say they are opposed to AAF, 68 percent said they "strongly opposed." "That's an uncommon intensity of opposition and it certainly got my attention."
- Respondents (77 percent of them) believe the rail line will make traffic worse than it is today.
- A majority, 53 percent, believe AAF will hurt local businesses.
- AAF will slow down response times for police, fire and medical emergency units in the communities along the tracks, 59 percent believe..
- Opposition is entirely and strongly bipartisan, with 72 percent of Democrats, 86 percent of independents, and 84 percent of Republicans reporting they oppose the rail project.
"All Aboard Florida is not embraced by residents on the Treasure Coast and in North Palm Beach County, said Brent Hanlon, treasurer of CARE FL. Our residents understand whats at stake if this ill-conceived project manages to go forward: more traffic, more threats to area businesses, and less access to our area hospitals. With this poll, we are telling our elected leaders and those who are pushing this project -- Slow down and listen to our community.
To complete this poll, the Jacksonville office of Mason-Dixon Polling and Research conducted live interviews April 6-8 via landlines and cellphones of 625 registered voters in Indian River, St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties. The margin of error is +/- 4 percent.
What Treasure Coast lawmakers are saying
The All Aboard Florida project is long on promises and short on factual information. This project threatens to disrupt the public safety of our community and as someone who recently experienced a significant medical challenge; I understand firsthand the importance of needing immediate access to a hospital. AAFs plan to add more freight and passenger rail only puts unnecessary barriers between our residents and our medical facilities, potentially putting lives at risk. Rep. MaryLynn Magar, R-Tequesta
The residents of the Treasure Coast are standing up for what they believe is a direct threat to our safety and our rights as taxpayers. We should not have to absorb the cost of a project that provides our community with so little in return. I join our residents in urging the projects planners to slow down and listen to us. Rep. Debbie Mayfield, R-Vero Beach
I share our communitys deep concerns over All Aboard Floridas plans to increase the number of trains in our community while shifting the added costs to taxpayers. Our citizens are right to be concerned about this projects threat to public safety, our access to medical facilities, and our way of life. Rep. Gayle Harrell, R-Stuart
Some 10 members of CARE FL, along with at least two area legislators, will attend a 9 a.m. Monday meeting at the Florida Development Finance Corp. in Tallahassee. The FDFC is a state-authorized issuer of industrial revenue bonds. Unfortunately, only staff -- not actual FDFC members -- will attend to take public testimony.
Reach Nancy Smith at email@example.com or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith