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Not All Aboard Florida 03.16.16

This week’s events on the FEC tracts provided us with a glimpse of what can happen when there is an accident on the rail line...two lives were lost.

At the time of this writing, there is not enough information to know exactly what caused the accident. However, what we do know is that a freight train and a truck had a collision and the individuals in the truck were killed.

The crossings were closed for over 4 hours between Indian Street and Cove Road. If the train was longer (as predicted for future freight trains), the crossings could have been affected from the St. Lucie River all the way to Cove Road. Add to that the fact that FEC could have been carrying hazardous materials and we have a perfect storm getting ready to happen.

The MCTA has been opposed to All Aboard Florida and increased rail traffic and has been an advocate for planning some sort of mitigation to help counteract the increased train traffic. Whether or not “All Aboard Florida” or “Brightline” as it now called, is successful we must have an alternative way to cross the tracts. Planning an overpass or underpass does not happen overnight. We have been given plenty of notice that the freight traffic is going to pick up along with the number of trains as well as the length of the trains. It is time to have a conversation about alternatives.

Martin County recently had a study on a majority of their real property holdings and we do not believe that the idea of an underpass or overpass was even mentioned. Not uncommon since the experts were from out of the area. It is virtually impossible to know what a community needs when you do not work or live in the community.

As it stands, Martin County owns property on the NE corner of Indian Street and the FEC. Additionally, Martin County owns property on the NE and SE corners of Monterey and FEC.
Both of these intersections have potential for some sort of underpass or overpass. That is not to say that there should be additional mitigated crossings in our south region. If we do not begin to look at this seriously, we will be reacting instead of being proactive. Reactive behavior historically cost more and is much less efficient.

We cannot afford to put our community at risk if there is a horrific train accident with no way out. Minutes become critical when you have had a heart attack, stroke, or have been in an accident.

We urge the county to take the lead on this very important issue. They own the land and have the staff to begin the study.

Possibly we could get ahead of the curve if we begin to act now. Crossings will be blocked and delays will happen. Property values are certain to decline with the simple fact that there will be additional freight trains (notwithstanding the high speed passenger trains). If we can mitigate this problem we will all be safer and our quality of life, although diminished, won’t be disastrous.