All Aboard Florida (AAF) executive Michael Reininger has been traveling recently, visiting newspaper editorial boards statewide to talk about how the proposed Florida High-Speed Passenger Rail Safety Act (House Bill 269 and Senate Bill 386) could derail the railroad company’s Brightline high-speed passenger rail service from Miami to Orlando.
Treasure Coast communities north of Palm Beach from Martin through Indian River counties have been fighting All Aboard Florida’s plans to run trains with speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour through the downtowns of many of the region’s communities.
The high-speed passenger rail companion bills, filed by Senator Debbie Mayfield (R-Melbourne) and Representative MaryLynn Magar (R-Hobe Sound), seek to have the Florida Department of Transportation regulate a number of safety and maintenance aspects of any railroad companies operating high-speed passenger service in the state.
“I find it quite astounding that Florida does not have any measures in place to address high-speed rail when there is a statewide project underway that will crisscross through my community, many others between Miami and Orlando, and potentially up Florida’s entire east coast,” said Mayfield in a January press release.
“I can tell you that to date I have not heard one thing from AAF about what they are going to do to ensure safety features are in place to protect the public around these fast-moving trains. This legislation is really designed to protect all Floridians from accidents and injuries at these dangerous railroad crossings across the state,” said Mayfield.
The bill also requires high-speed railroad companies to “be solely responsible for all rail corridor improvements or upgrades related to system operation and safety.”
After Reininger’s recent visit to the Palm Beach Post, the newspaper published an editorial that said the SB 386’s passage out of the Senate Transportation Committee sent All Aboard Florida “into a tizzy” with claims that the bill might derail Brightline.
“This legislation not only protects Floridians from the potential dangers of high-speed trains by ensuring the appropriate safety technology is in place, but also protects their tax dollars by ensuring the appropriate entity pays for those upgrades,” said Magar in the January release. “Local governments should not have to absorb the costs of protecting their citizens from a private project. This good bill puts a stop to so-called private railroad companies financing their business ventures on the backs of hard-working taxpayers.”
The house version of the bill is set to be heard at 8am tomorrow (Tuesday) by the House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee.
Representatives Erin Grall (R-Vero Beach), Gayle Harrell (R-Stuart) and Larry Lee Jr. (D-Fort Pierce) are also sponsoring the house bill.