West Palm Beach commissioners will wait until October to discuss All Aboard Florida’s request to close a section of a downtown alleyway so the private rail company can build a station for its express passenger train service.
City commissioners were expected to take up the request at a meeting Monday, but officials said Thursday the item has been delayed and will not appear on the commission’s agenda.
The alley is located between Datura and Evernia streets to the west of the Florida East Coast Railway tracks. Despite the delay, a large public notice about Monday’s meeting was still posted at the site on Thursday.
“We are still working with the city,” All Aboard Florida’s Public Affairs Manager Ali Soule said Thursday in a statement released by the company. “We believe the item will go before the commission in October. We are still moving forward.”
The delay comes as many local governments from Palm Beach County to the Treasure Coast question railroad crossing agreements proposed by All Aboard Florida. Officials say they have concerns about the cost to taxpayers and the lawfulness of the contracts, which outline local governments’ responsibility to maintain rail crossings.
West Palm Beach officials recently responded to All Aboard Florida with their own demands, including a request to put the promise of railroad quiet zones in writing.
All Aboard Florida plans to run 32 passenger trains a day between Miami and Orlando on the FEC railway tracks. The express trains will stop in the downtown areas of Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and at the Orlando International Airport.
The alleyway abandonment is one of two items All Aboard Florida asked the city commission to approve as part of its plan to build a $29 million train station between Datura and Evernia streets along the FEC tracks.
The commission this month gave All Aboard Florida its blessing to close FEC railroad crossings at Evernia and Datura streets to build the station. Ultimately, it will be up to the state’s Department of Transportation to determine whether the crossings are permanently closed.
Florida’s building code exempts rail projects from city and county regulations. As a result, All Aboard’s station can be designed and constructed without the City Commission’s approval.
All Aboard officials, however, have agreed that the plan would be reviewed by city officials.
As part of the alleyway request, the company had planned a public presentation on the status of the station.
Plans for the station call for a sleek narrow facility of stacked concrete and glass. An elevated lounge the length of the 800-foot train platform will have seats for 180 people, while a U-shaped drop-off area will ease departures and pickups.
A new access road proposed on the west side of the FEC tracks would link Fern and Clematis streets.