Recently, I have been writing a lot about All Aboard Florida, but the implementation of the high-speed passenger rail service is raising numerous issues for our community, among which is the question of quiet zones.
A quiet zone is defined by the Federal Rail Administration as an area of the track, at least a half-mile long and with at least one crossing, where extra safety measures are in place so the train engineer does not need to blow the horn.
On the surface, the establishment of quiet zones along the All Aboard Florida railway is a way to mitigate high-traffic noise; however, the problem lies in the funding. In Palm Beach and Broward counties, All Aboard Florida has offered to go beyond federally-required track upgrades and lay the foundation for quiet zones. Yet, on the Treasure Coast, most officials have said they would rather forgo quiet zones than risk mixing the public’s money with private dollars from All Aboard Florida, and Indian River and Martin County are attempting to shut the project down through legal action.
“That is absolutely the responsibility of All Aboard Florida,” Martin County Commissioner Anne Scott states of any proposed quiet zones. “If they think safety is our problem, they are as wrong as wrong can be.”
All Aboard Florida over the last three weeks have provided the Treasure Coast governments with nearly-complete engineering plans that paint a clearer picture of upcoming changes to crossings, medians and turn lanes, and clarify what additional work would be needed for quiet zones. Yet, these “plans” are ruses to foist crossing liability onto local governments, rather than All Aboard Florida. If safety measures are to be the responsibility of individual counties, then those counties will be held responsible for any accidents, injuries, or deaths.
“This is an unbelievably dangerous project through a densely populated area,” Martin County Commissioner Scott adds. “All Aboard Florida officials have said previously that a local funding deal likely would be similar to one reached with communities to the south, such as the Hallandale Beach-to-West Palm Beach quiet zone announced in August, which is to be funded with $60 million from All Aboard Florida and $10.8 million from Palm Beach and Broward county transportation-planning organizations.
The Treasure Coast will not receive any positive benefits from the adoption of All Aboard Florida; therefore, as residents, our tax dollars should not go toward protecting ourselves from the dangerous project. I urge all Treasure Coast residents to join the causes against All Aboard Florida. Visit www.floridanotallaboard.net to learn about the latest news, candidate positions, and to sign the opposing petition.