WOW, this high speed rail / Florida East Coast thing is even getting into the Governor’s Mansion. NEXT CITY has a big story on: High-Speed Rail Muddies Florida Governor’s Race.
High-speed rail has a complicated history in the Sunshine State. Florida’s current governor Rick Scott was one of several Republicans to refuse federal funds ($2.4 billion) earmarked for high-speed trains in 2011. According to the Tampa Bay Times, his decision elicited “cheers from his tea party base, and harsh criticism from leading Florida Republicans and Democrats.”
Fast-forward three years, and a high-speed project is in the works — with cautious support from Scott. But All Aboard Florida, as it’s cheerfully titled, is different from the project Scott refused for one simple Tea Party-pleasing reason: It’s privately owned and operated by Florida East Coast Industries. And Scott is quick to point that out.
“All Aboard Florida is a 100 percent private venture,” he said in a TV interview in June. “There is no state money involved.”
The train is expected to connect Miami to Orlando in less than three hours with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. It will be the slowest of the three proposed U.S. rail projects (others are Texas and California), maxing out at 125 mph.
Now Jacksonville, who is not officially yet involved with All Aboard Florida has gotten into the news. The Jax Daily Record had a good article on “Better Transit Systems For Downtown Is Key To Growth”.
Getting Jacksonville’s Downtown better connected through public transit would lay the groundwork for regional high speed rail and help lift urban core real estate.
That was the takeaway of an industry panel that discussed the future of infrastructure in Northeast Florida.
The panel was part of an event that unveiled the Urban Land Institute’s 2014 infrastructure report. The report focused on how infrastructure investments could shape cities for global competitiveness.
The industry panel took a local view, though, by asking which investments would promote Jacksonville the best. Downtown public transit connectivity was considered one of the missing puzzle pieces.
It’s one of the things holding back All Aboard Florida, a privately funded high-speed rail initiative that will connect Orlando with Miami. Jacksonville is not yet included in that plan.
The initiative is first targeting cities that have local routes in place to take riders from high-speed rail stations to their final destinations, said Husein Cumber, executive vice president of Corporate Development for the Florida East Coast Railway, the parent company of All Aboard Florida.
Orlando is one such city. It has been investing in its public transportation system for decades.
To compete, Jacksonville would have to have routes in place so a rider could get from a high-speed rail station to places like EverBank Field for a game, to the airport, San Marco or Jacksonville Beach, Cumber said.
South Florida Business Journal has a story involving two U.S. Congressmen.
In separate letters to the Government Accountability Office, U.S. Reps. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, and Bill Posey, R-Rockledge, said an independent review of the All Aboard project is needed before federal officials decide whether to give the company the loan, The Palm Beach Post reports.
Read more on this story about the Congressmen.
TC Palm has the story on Indian River County rejectingAll Aboard Florida’s plan to maintain rail crossings
The Sunshine State News has a story on “The Horror Behind Curtain No. 2”.
All Aboard Florida (AAF) is like a rigged “Let’s Make a Deal” TV experience.
They tell you the Big Prize is the shiny new passenger train service. But no matter which curtain you choose, you’re going to get what’s behind curtain No. 2 — the freight-train nightmare from hell.