Martin County advocates for safety measures, awaits response to public records request re AAF

 

 

This proposed project traverses directly through Florida scrub-jay critical habitat, through Jonathan Dickinson State Park, Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, and Savannas State Preserve just to name a few. Impacts to Florida scrub-jays are certain. Many other species threatened, endangered and otherwise, will also most certainly be impacted by this project through crossing impacts alone. (Source: martin.fl.us)

On December 17, 2015, Martin County made a public records request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for copies of written communications from FRA concerning safety issues for the AAF (All Aboard Florida) project.

Martin County’s request was made after reports that FRA is requiring safety measures above and beyond those originally proposed by AAF.

If true, information about FRA’s safety requirements would be important for Martin County and other state and local governments to know, as AAF attempts to push forward with permit applications at the state and local level.

In spite of the time sensitivity and importance of this, the FRA has not fulfilled the request in the two months since it was originally made. The FOIA provides the public with the right to request access to records from any federal agency and is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.

While the FRA has failed to answer the County’s request, it did respond to another FOIA request made on January 6, 2016 by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC). TCRPC’s FOIA request asked for communications between AAF and FRA regarding proposed grade crossing and infrastructure improvements along a portion of the rail corridor of the project.

FRA indicated in its responsive letter to TCRP that it could not fulfill the request without first coordinating with AAF to determine whether or not it could release those records. Yet again, AAF is being allowed to determine what information the public gets to hear regarding an important issue like safety features.

Nevertheless, Martin County will continue its work to ensure the health, safety, and welfare of the public as it relates to the AAF project.

Last week, the Martin County Board of County Commissioners unanimously recommitted financial resources, an additional $850,000, to continue the fight against the proposed AAF passenger rail project. This is additional to internal resources available for the matter.

The funding will support the completion of the litigation that is currently in process and continue the County’s engagement efforts with state and federal regulatory agencies in an attempt to protect its citizens from what it believes is a project that will cause long-lasting and irreparable harm to the community.

Related posts:


Comments are closed.