April 17--JUPITER -- More than 350 people packed into a community meeting Thursday night to hear more explanations about All Aboard Florida and to voice their frustrations over the project.
The mood was resoundingly against All Aboard Florida, the high-speed passenger train set to begin Miami-to-Orlando service in 2016.
While the lack of any stations north of West Palm Beach has been one of the contentious points during meetings along the Treasure Coast, residents of northern Palm Beach County shared other objections to the 110 mph trains: safety, cost to local communities of safety upgrades and traffic backups.
On the Treasure Coast, the boating and maritime communities fear long and frequent closings of the bridge over the St. Lucie River in Stuart. In Jupiter, Tequesta and nearby communities, boaters have the same concern about the Loxahatchee River bridge.
Attendees of the meeting heard from U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, who has taken his All Aboard Florida concerns to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Thursday night Murphy repeated his concerns, largely the fact that even as a congressman, and with the company's application for a federal loan on the table, there's little he can do to challenge the project or even to get answers.
"There is no vote in Congress for this," Murphy told the overflow crowd in the Jupiter Community Center. "The Department of Transportation gets funds allocated for this and goes and makes loans."
Kim DeLaney, of the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, and George Gentile, chairman of the Jupiter Inlet District, were among the other speakers.
In a news conference before the meeting, Florida Not All Aboard, a grass-roots group opposing the project, released a letter written Wednesday to Gov. Rick Scott calling on the governor to block a federal loan for the railroad; oppose any state money for the railroad; develop state safety standards for high-speed trains; and push All Aboard Florida to pay for safety upgrades.
Phyllis Frey of the Vero Beach-based American Coalition for Property Rights was among speakers at the news conference.
Copyright 2014 - Treasure Coast Newspapers, Stuart, Fla.