- By Jennifer Sorentrue Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida — a group that has spent years fighting to block Brightline’s northern expansion to Orlando — will hold a public meeting tonight in Stuart to discuss its battle against the private rail project.
The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Lyric Theatre, 59 SW Flagler Boulevard. It is open to the public.
Brent Hanlon, the CARE FL’s chairman, Bob Crandall, a member of CARE FL’s steering committee and the former president, chairman and CEO of American Airlines; and Steve Ryan, CARE FL’s attorney are expected to attend the meeting.
Last week, Brightline’s President and Chief Operating Officer Patrick Goddard urged CARE FL and its members to help spread the company’s safety message. Brightline has increased it public outreach campaign after its trains hit three people in an eight-day span. In all three incidents, police said those hit did not heed warning lights and crossing gates at the intersections.
“What better way to communicate this message than to drop our political differences in the interest of working together for the betterment of our communities, schools and residents,” Goddard wrote in the Jan. 23 letter to Hanlon. “A partnership like this would establish an unparalleled example of compromise and commitment to doing what is right.”
In a single-page response on Monday, Hanlon said the deaths show it will take more than a public awareness campaign to “address the dangers” of Brightline’s trains.
“Adequately protecting the public from faster moving trains they are not accustomed to requires infrastructure changes and high-tech improvements along the rail corridor and at its many at grade crossings,” Hanlon wrote. “These costs should not be heaped on the local communities by way of maintenance bills for millions of dollars in the future.”