FL: Jupiter Island Mayor Fears All Aboard Florida May Pose Threat to Public Safety

May 28--TOWN OF JUPITER ISLAND -- As an island community with some of the highest property values in the country, the Town of Jupiter Island faces unique dangers should All Aboard Florida begin running its proposed 32 high-speed rail trips up and down the Treasure Coast in 2016.

Threats to public safety -- in particular being cut off from the majority of mainland Martin County -- are of major concern, Mayor Harry Charlston said in letters to the U.S. Coast Guard and Florida Department of Transportation.

Bridge Road, which crosses the St. Lucie River at the Hobe Sound drawbridge, is the only way for motorists and pedestrians to reach the mainland. The next nearest crossing, Beach Road, is 9.3 miles south.

Also known as County Road 707, Bridge Road crosses Florida East Coast's rail at Southeast Dixie Highway about one-half mile west of the town's limits. The rail runs parallel to Dixie Highway, blocking access to Dixie Highway, U.S. 1 and the majority of Martin County when trains pass through.

"Gridlock poses concerns beyond convenience," Charlston said in his letter.

Traffic jams from frequent rail delays would delay fire and emergency medical response times, and should an accident occur along the half-mile stretch of Bridge Road while a train is passing and the drawbridge is up, the victims would be stranded.

Though that scenario could occur today, "when you add the daily 32 passenger trains with the spike in freight trains, those odds increase significantly," Charlston said in his letter to Rear Adm. John H. Korn, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Elevated noise pollution, which could diminish the town's quality of life and decrease property values, also is a concern.

Any impact that compromises property values in the town could affect Martin County's overall tax base, according to Charlston.

The town is the latest in a string of local governments who have sent letters to federal agencies and state lawmakers stating their opposition to All Aboard Florida's proposed high speed rail service from Miami to Orlando.

Mobile and tablet users: Click here to read the letters.

Copyright 2014 - Treasure Coast Newspapers, Stuart, Fla.