It's a no-brainer that high-speed rail would make everybody's lives a little more bearable -- especially in Florida, where a simple shot up I-95 at the wrong time of day can be a Bataan Death March. Gov. Rick Scott has already flubbed one opportunity for high-speed rail between Tampa and Orlando by refusing federal funding.
But a new private project, All Aboard Florida, is hoping to fire trains from Miami to Orlando in three hours, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm. Great news, right? Well, a growing number of small-town politicians are beating on the project like a piñata.
The project plans for running 32 trains daily between Miami and Orlando. All Aboard Florida backers are putting $1 billion on the table for the project. They're also asking for a tax-backed $1.5 billion federal loan. As the project stands now, the high-speed rail will use existing track.
But along the Treasure Coast, folks aren't having it. Vero Beach, Port St. Lucie, Tequesta, Fort Pierce, Sebastian, Stuart, and Jupiter have all passed resolutions condemning the project. Indian River County also passed a similarly worded bill, and Martin County passed one last week.
A change.org petition set up by Florida NOT All Aboard demanding the project move its tracks west has almost 10,000 signatures. The concerns among the opposition run the gamut from reasonable --- environmental concerns, bridge issues -- to downright cranky -- noise!, traffic!, ambulances will get held up at crossings!
They're basically throwing the kitchen sink of NIMBY shit at All Aboard Florida, just hoping something sticks. And in these areas of the state that are being blown by the project, the opposition is finding a foothold.
For these small-town city council members and county commissioners, it's an easy political layup to bash a high-speed rail project that doesn't even stop in your community. It's become a whipping boy for the election season -- which should really piss off you, South Floridians, because your shot at having access to high-speed rail is being threatened by whether Treasure Coast pols thinks it'd be expedient to bash the project for a town council seat.
Look, we're all for cracking down on billion-dollar developments. But this isn't some redundant supermall but something that's actually going to haul Florida into the 21st Century. Yes, let's hash out the environmental issues, look at congestion. But don't use an actual meaningful project as a political football 'cause it's easy to lemming out in opposition.