Two Major Florida Papers Blast ‘Obstructionist’ Bill Targeting Brightline

By NTK Staff | 03.27.2017 @10:28am
Two Major Florida Papers Blast ‘Obstructionist’ Bill Targeting Brightline

The South Florida Sun Sentinel and Orlando Sentinel took one state senator to task for trying to kill express rail in the Sunshine State…

Two of Florida’s biggest newspapers, the Orlando Sentinel and South Florida Sun Sentinel, published editorials over the weekend blasting a bill proposed by State Sen. Debbie Mayfield (R-Vero Beach) that would effectively derail express rail passenger service from Miami to Orlando.

Also jumping in the fight — Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, who penned a letter to the legislature expressing his “strong opposition” to the bill. Tampa could benefit from a later phase of the project, which would bright express rail to the Gulf side.

The Orlando Sentinel helpfully breaks down Mayfield’s bill, which targets All Aboard Florida’s Brightline service:

The sponsor of the Senate bill, Republican Debbie Mayfield of Vero Beach, has insisted it is not aimed specifically at All Aboard Florida. Yet as she presented her bill at a committee hearing this month, she reportedly referred at least twice to “All Aboard Florida” before correcting herself to say “any high-speed rail company.”

Mayfield and the sponsors of the House counterpart, Republicans MaryLynn Magar of Tequesta and Erin Grall of Vero Beach, represent districts on Florida’s Treasure Coast. Public sentiment there runs against the trains, which will traverse the region without making any stops. Local governments on the Treasure Coast have waged a lengthy legal battle, bankrolled by millions of taxpayer dollars, against All Aboard Florida. So far, they haven’t been able to stop it.

Now, the bill’s sponsors appear to be spearheading the obstruction. Their legislation would drape a heavy new layer of state regulatory mandates on “high-speed rail,” defined as traveling “in excess of 80 miles per hour on or after July 1, 2017.” Brightline trains are expected to travel at 79 mph between Miami and West Palm Beach, but exceed the bill’s speed limit on the extension to Orlando. Quelle coincidence.

Beating back these claims, the Orlando Sentinel points out that All Aboard Florida is installing and paying for “the latest train safety features” and for upgrades and improvements at rail crossings.

Agreeing with the Orlando Sentinel, the Sun Sentinel wrote:

From what we know about the big picture, All Aboard Florida has gone above and beyond in doing what it said it would do. And since railroads have always been regulated by the feds, we don’t see a compelling case for tough new state regulations.

While Mayfield’s bill has some things to like, we believe it could derail an exciting new chapter in transportation. We encourage its defeat.

The legislation was passed out of a Senate Committee and is expected to be heard in the House this week. These editorials come on the heels of a motion from the Miami-Dade City Council unanimously calling for the legislation’s defeat.

Sign Up

for NTK updates every week.