About 80 people, wearing white and red T-shirts reading “Stop the Trains,” created a standing-room-only crowd at Tuesday’s Town Council meeting to oppose the proposed Miami-to-Orlando rail service known as All Aboard Florida.
“We want the council to block the issuance of $1.75 billion in tax-exempt bonds needed to finish the rail line through to Orlando,” said Tom Hewitt, a resident of Admiral’s Cove in Jupiter.
The Jupiter gathering came a few hours after a group of northern Palm Beach County residents urged Palm Beach County commissioners to block All Aboard Florida’s plan to launch an express passenger rail service. Like those at the Jupiter meeting, they said the project was unsafe and harmful to their quality of life.
Bob Pesci, a member of the Jonathan’s Landing property owners association, presented the county commission with a petition signed by 500 residents calling for the county to fight the rail project.
AAF officials have countered that the project will create jobs, boost tax revenue to local communities and reduce traffic on Florida roadways.
All Aboard Florida plans 32 passenger trains a day between Miami and Orlando on the FEC tracks, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The Miami-to-West Palm Beach service is expected to begin in late 2016, with the Orlando leg starting in 2017.
Opponents to AAF said the Loxahatchee River bridge is unsafe for more trains. They also said emergency vehicles would be delayed and that the train would create noise and hurt the boating industry.
“Even if AAF has strong ridership, AAF could not pay off the debt service,” Jupiter resident Rick Goldenberg said.
“We live in a county and state that supports AAF, but here in north county, it will hurt our quality of life,” said Councilman Todd Wodraska.
The council directed Town Manager Andy Lukasik draft a letter to oppose AAF before the next council meeting.
Council member Ilan Kaufer was absent from the meeting.