Tim Suereth

The United States Department of Transportation released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement, through the Federal Railroad Administration about the All Aboard Florida passenger train service, that express passenger rail service that will soon transport passengers in under 3 hours from Miami to Orlando, is available for review and comment. The next step is a Record of Decision, expected following the comment period for the DEIS, which will allow the private developers to begin the multi-billion dollar self-funded passenger train service, and enable the rail line to be on-line by 2016.

In anticipation of the 2016 grand opening of the All Aboard Florida passenger train service, the Draft Environmental Impact Statement in the next step in the process to determine what effect the passenger train service will have along the route.

The Draft Environmental Impact Study gives an impartial environmental analysis of the project, and lays out potential impacts on cultural resources, navigation, wetlands, floodplains, biological resources and natural ecological systems.

The Federal Railroad Administration found that the environmental impact of the All Aboard Florida train service would be minimal. In fact, the agency lauded the project on many grounds, showing there were many beneficial impacts anticipated, especially in air quality, transportation efficiency and noise reduction.

Tim Suereth

The report is bad news for the few anti-train groups who have recently formed to derail the train project. These mysterious front groups have been orchestrating an expensive public relations campaign to thwart the effort to bring high-speed passenger train service to Florida, although the public opinion polls show the preponderance of Floridians want the high-speed train service.

The release of the Draft Environmental Impact Study by the Federal Railroad Administration has now triggered a 75 day comment period for other governmental agencies, and the public, to weigh-in and to offer their recommendations for an improved railway.

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo said, “Public involvement and input is critical in evaluating alternatives and ensuring a thorough analysis of all aspects of the project.”

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said. “That is why we are having a robust comment period, to hear from as many people as possible.”

All Aboard Florida and the Federal Railroad Administration are encouraging anyone who lives or works around the train tracks to come out and participate in the discussions and help make recommendations that will ensure a cohesive, happy and mutually beneficial alliance between the community and the train company.

High-speed passenger train service will be a viable transportation option in Florida, in 2016, when phase 1 of the All Aboard Florida passenger train service will be completed and begin operations to provide a safe, comfortable and convenient travel option to and from Florida’s most highly trafficked commercial, entertainment, and recreational destinations.

Tim Suereth

The first phase of the private, multi-billion dollar railroad project will include a 66 mile stretch that connects Miami, Ft. Lauderdale and Palm Beach through a combination of new and existing railroad tracks that are being linked together by Florida East Coast Industries, the parent company of All Aboard Florida, and one of Florida’s oldest and largest transportation, infrastructure, and commercial real estate companies – once owned by Florida pioneer, Henry Flagler.

Phase two of the train project will link South Florida to Orlando, with subsequent phases eventually adding service through Tampa and Jacksonville. The initial link between Miami and Orlando will consist of 235 miles of intercity passenger rail lines, serving four distinctly distinguishable train stations in Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, Palm Beach and Orlando. The new passenger train service will reduce the travel time from Miami to Orlando to only 3 hours.

Beyond the obvious benefits to Florida travelers, the economic consequences of the All Aboard Florida train service will stretch beyond the borders of the communities along the tracks, with thousands of new construction jobs being created throughout Florida and the thousands of additional full-time jobs that are going to be needed to maintain the tracks, run the daily train service and to also operate the many retail, hotel and entertainment venues that will be developed at each train station location.

All Aboard Florida, through its parent company, Florida East Coast Industries, is responsible for financing the development, construction, operation, and maintenance of the passenger train service. Florida East Coast Industries, has owned, operated, maintained and managed freight and/or passenger train service on a continuous basis in Florida for more than 100 years, so their decision to invest in these transportation corridors comes with insightful industry experience and expertise. Since the company will be receiving a federal transportation loan for some of the infrastructure improvements, the project has gone through several rounds of analytical research and evaluations by the federal government and outside engineering companies to determine the proper routes, operating guidelines, environmental impact remediations and infrastructure improvements necessary for the re-implementation of passenger train service in Florida.

The All Aboard Florida passenger train service will benefit the environment, the economy and the quality of life for Florida residents and visitors to the sunshine state, beginning in 2016.