BCC: Incomplete AAF construction plans, absence of right-of-way permits limit Martin analysis

 

Vintage photo (circa 1969) of the Florida East Coast Railway bascule bridge at Stuart.

 

From the Martin County Board of County Commissioners: The latest design plans received in April from All Aboard Florida (AAF), which were billed as “100 percent construction plans,” are still incomplete, preventing Martin County from being able to conduct a thorough review of those plans. As a result, the County, as stated in its June 23 letter to AAF, was still only able to provide general comments.

 

Martin County’s comments reiterated concerns that were shared with Michael Reininger, President of AAF Operations, more than a year ago in response to the project’s “Draft 90 percent construction plans.” The County never received a response to those comments.

 

“Martin County will only be able to perform a detailed review of the construction plans after receipt of a Right-of-Way Use Permit Application for each crossing and a complete set of plans,” explained Martin County Engineering Department’s Deputy Director Terry Rauth.

 

The County provided a laundry list of comments that should already be addressed when AAF submits the Permit Application. Once Martin County receives the application, it will take at least two months to review the construction plans, given the sheer number of crossings, the impacts to the County’s road network, the specific construction proposed within road right-of-ways and the multiple bridge and culvert crossings that will be affected.

 

Upon initial review, however, the most glaring issues identified in AAF’s current plans are: no track construction or track grading plans; no preliminary railway signal plans or fiber optic plans; and no floodplain approvals. Additionally, Martin County has consistently requested additional, often utilized safety features to protect the public but that AAF continues to omit from its plans. These include sealed corridor-level improvements at all crossings regardless of proposed speeds as well as additional sidewalks, fencing and bike lanes at various crossings.

 

The County is very concerned about pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists who will not be used to trains traveling at 80 to 100 plus miles per hour – nearly triple the speed of current freight trains that people are used to seeing on the tracks. People will have difficulty judging this new speed, especially around curves and in other places where the view may be impeded.

 

Martin County will continue its work to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the public as it relates to the AAF project. For more resources and information on the many local and regional issues of concern relating to the proposed AAF passenger rail project, including presentations, studies, letters of concern to state and federal agencies and more, visit www.martin.fl.us. In addition, please visit the County’s social media platforms, Facebook and Twitter, for updates.

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