Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida (CARE): April 2016 update

 

Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida (CARE) continues to actively pursue all possible legal, political and public communication channels to stop the ill-conceived All Aboard Florida (AAF) rail project that threatens the public safety and current way of life of communities throughout the Treasure Coast.

 

Federal Lawsuit. Martin County, Indian River County and two CARE members filed a federal lawsuit in May 2015 focused on violations of federal environmental law and the illegality of the Private Activity Bond (PAB) approval. The judge initially found that the community lacked “standing” because its injury would be caused by the building of the railroad, not the issuance of the bonds. AAF and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) filed motions to dismiss the case in early 2016, the Counties filed responses on February 16 focused on new expert analysis on bond and capital markets, and AAF and DOT filed reply briefs on February 29.

 

A ruling is expected in April and to date no PABs have been sold. Should the judge rule against our communities, we have the option to bring the case to the Court of Appeals.

 

Other Legal Work. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) issued the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) in August 2015, but because no Record of Decision (ROD) has been issued the agency action is arguably not “final”. The absence of a ROD inhibits CARE and others from initiating legal action to determine whether the FEIS is legally inadequate.

 

CARE continues to monitor the “Section 106” consultations still underway with respect to the impact of the project on important archaeological and historical sites, such as the Lyric Theater in Martin County. These consultations must be completed before a ROD is issued, and CARE will evaluate its legal options as this situation evolves.

 

In coordination with the Counties, CARE is also actively monitoring the permitting and rulemaking actions of other federal and state agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Florida Water Management Districts, and is considering legal actions on these permitting issues at the local, state and federal level.

 

Additional Federal Funding. CARE understands that AAF continues to seek additional federal dollars in order to reduce its own monetary commitment to the project, despite repeated assurances that it would be a private venture. We have learned that AAF continues to pursue a Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loan and is also seeking federal dollars through a Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant. These DOT funding options would allow for much-needed repairs and improvements to the antiquated movable rail bridges along the route while also letting the railroad off the hook for paying for the necessary work.

 

Winning this fight is up to us. The residents of the Treasure Coast communities who have the most to lose from this project must stand and fight—and CARE is ready to continue leading the way in this fight.

 

Please stay in touch on our website, www.saveourfl.com, and like our Facebook page for updates on CARE’s progress.

 

And please send as large a contribution as you can afford to:

 

CARE FL, LLC

7407 SE Hill Terrace

Hobe Sound, FL 33455

ATTN: Brent Hanlon

 

 

 

 

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