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Thursday, February 15, 2018

New lawsuit would keep Florida's 'higher-speed' train Brightline from reaching Orlando

Posted By on Thu, Feb 15, 2018 at 2:07 PM

click to enlarge PHOTO VIA BRIGHTLINE
  • Photo via Brightline
A new lawsuit seeks to slow plans to bring All Aboard Florida's "higher speed" train Brightline to Orlando.

According to the Palm Beach Post, the lawsuit was filed by Martin and Indian River Counties, along with Citizens against Rail Expansion in Florida, against the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration for allegedly giving $1.15 billion in private activity bonds to the project before properly considering public safety, environmental impact or traffic problems the project may have.

Private activity bonds are tax-exempt bonds issued by local or state government to finance privately owned projects. According to the IRS's Publication 4078, there are 15 types of projects that qualify for these bonds, including "high-speed intercity rail facilities."

The suit also claims, that this project doesn't qualify for these bonds at all, stating, “[it]does not fall into any of the 15 categories that may be financed by private activity bonds (PABs).”

Brightline management released a statement saying, “This is the seventh lawsuit Treasure Coast counties have filed to stop a privately funded transportation project that is critical to Florida’s growth. The anti-progress vision of the Treasure Coast has already cost taxpayers $7 million. Apparently, there is no limit to how much more taxpayer money they will waste.”

Brightline has been operating its line from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale since January, and is supposed to reach Miami later this year. Brightline was also supposed to start the construction of the Orlando portion of the line this year, but hasn't announced any specific dates.

When all said and done, the train should be able to travel from Orlando to Miami in roughly three hours, traveling at speeds of 79 to 125 miles per hour.

Since the train has started on its limited line in January, Brightline trains have already hit six people.

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