Florida NOT All Aboard
Is All Aboard Florida (AAF) a done deal? NO! AAF still needs financing. In late 2014 The U.S. Dept. of Transportation provisionally approved the ability for AAF to sell tax-exempt bonds. These bonds are not government-guaranteed, and AAF must find buyers for these bonds. AAF cannot use any funds raised from these bonds until the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is approved and another 45 days has passed. We have yet to see if AAF can find buyers who will invest in this speculative project – especially to the tune of $1.75 billion. These are taxpayer subsidized bonds since no income taxes will not be paid on earned income. We believe this is a form of corporate welfare.
AAF has also applied for a $1.6 billion Railroad Rehabilitation Infrastructure Financing (RRIF) loan from the Federal government, in other words, a loan from all of us taxpayers. The loan reminds us of Solyndra or Digital Domain – if the loan is not repaid, the taxpayers are left holding the bag.
Are there any profitable passenger rail companies in North America? NO! In Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Palm Beach, All Aboard Florida high speed passenger trains will be servicing a metropolitan area of approximately six million people, whereas Acela, which is not profitable, services approximately 50 million people in the metropolitan areas from Washington DC to Boston.
What is AAF? AAF is a proposal for 32 passenger trains a day on the existing Florida East Coast tracks between Miami and Cocoa. A new track is planned to be built from Cocoa to Orlando along SR 528. From Cocoa to Miami, AAF will add a second track to the corridor with the exception of the St. Lucie Bridge. Passenger trains will run during the day and share the tracks with the freight trains, which run on a 24-hour schedule. AFF states the passenger trains will be “high-speed”, traveling up to 110 mph through many of our communities.
The rest of the world has high speed rail, why not AAF? The rest of the world has built HSR to be mutually beneficial. The corridor is comprised of tunnels and bridges so as not to cause disruption or safety hazards to communities. AAF is trying to retrofit tracks built over 100 years ago with over 340 grade level crossings. There is no other system in the world that has done this. Acela, for example, has 95% bridge/tunnel crossings where AAF is only 2%. Please watch our videos on our YouTube Channel: Florida NOT All Aboard. http://tinyurl.com/FLNOTAA
Who owns AAF? Fortress Investment Group, the owner of Florida East Coast Railroad and a publicly traded, New York City-based hedge fund & investment firm. Fortress has lost over 60% of its market value since its initial public offering in 2007. Credit Suisse downgraded Fortress stock in Jan. 2015.
Where are the train stations? Orlando, Miami, West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale. No others are planned.
Will the freight and passenger trains operate on the same tracks? Freight trains are anticipated to stop at designated locations allowing passenger trains to pass. Freight trains are expected to increase in number by 42% in 2016. Furthermore, some trains may expand to lengths up to 2.65 miles long. Combined, we will see over 50 trains per day with freight.
What about local Emergencies? More trains and longer freight trains could mean a much slower response time and some communities will be split in half. Seconds count when saving lives.
What about boat traffic passing under rail bridges? More trains will mean less time for the bridges to open, so expect bridge closures during daylight of 9-12 hours.
How loud are the train horns? Noise pollution from train horns will be 96-110 decibels, which is equivalent to a power saw at three feet from your ears. Warning horns must blow at every crossing.
What are Quiet Zones and who pays for them? Minimum warning device requirements for public crossings designated as Quiet Zones include flashing light signals with gates, constant warning time train detection circuitry and power-off indicators visible to the train crew. In addition, crossings in Quiet Zones typically require additional safety improvements such as gates with channelization or medians, four-quadrant gates, one-way streets, and crossing closures. Communities can install quiet zones at the taxpayer’s expense at $100,000’s per installation.
Can AAF build new or use the westerly tracks that go between West Palm Beach to Orlando? Yes, but AAF is not considering this option. Nor are they considering building new tracks to the west.
I am not a boater and I do not live near the tracks, will I still be affected? Yes, everyone will be. Studies show that real estate values near the track decline up to 20%. Marine businesses west of the tracks will most likely lose business. There will be less income for our entire community. Elected officials will be left with two choices to make up for the lost income: raise our taxes or cut our services.
Want to help? Sign the on-line petition and write to your elected officials. Now more than ever, it is important to continue to write your elected officials. The website has sample letters, names and contact information. Check out our easy 1 button form letter that sends a letter for you to many of our elected officials.
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