Here’s the reality: Brightline needs our community far more than our community needs Brightline. Since it first announced its expansion into the Treasure Coast as All Aboard Florida, it has done nothing but cause problems and then ask our community to fix them. And if Brightline doesn’t get its way, it tries to hold us hostage. That’s because its business model doesn’t work unless our community rolls over and makes huge concessions to a company that doesn’t give a rat’s caboose about us.
Unfortunately, we’re seeing more of that pattern play out right now. Last summer, our community showed up in full force and made it clear to the U.S. Coast Guard that we would not allow the St. Lucie River railroad bridge to be closed off to boaters for 45 to 50 minutes every hour so that Brightline can run dozens of high speed trains over it daily. Now, we are just days away from the Coast Guard implementing a test schedule that rightly gives boaters and trains equal access…and Brightline is livid.
At the eleventh hour, it’s claiming that if the test schedule is implemented, Brightline trains will block automotive traffic throughout the Treasure Coast. Brightline’s new plan is to force our community into an impossible decision: tolerate near total obstruction of automotive traffic or tolerate near total obstruction of maritime navigation. We’re not going to accept either.
Enter the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). This is the government entity that should be stepping in to make sure trains do not cause major problems in the communities they run through. However, in our case, the FRA either lacked any foresight or was outright negligent. It’s been tracking Brightline’s expansion from the beginning, and yet claimed there would be “minor” impacts to local traffic. Either it bought Brightline’s BS hook, line, and sinker, or it got the math completely wrong.
Regardless, the FRA owes us answers and a plan for how it will handle Brightline’s expansion and its threats to block automotive traffic. That’s what I demanded of the Administrator, and what I’ll continue fighting for. This is urgent – the test deviation is going to be implemented on June 21 – and the FRA needs to treat this threat to our community as the major problem that it is.
You can read my full letter here: