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U.S. Judge Tosses Lawsuit To Block All Aboard Florida; Money For Phase 2 Still In Question

All Aboard Florida
All Aboard Florida’s Brightline Express train

All Aboard Florida’s plan to operate regular passenger train service between Miami and Orlando survived a lawsuit filed by Indian River and Martin counties when a federal judge on May 10 dismissed the suit. But funding problems remain.

The counties, which opposed the train, sued the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2015, stating the agency ignored the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act when it agreed to issue $1.75 billion in non-taxable private activity bonds (PAB) for All Aboard Florida (AAF), which would mean up to $600 million in lost tax revenue over 10 years, according to court documents.

Phase 1 of the ambitious project, creating a passenger route and terminals at three stops along the Florida East Coast railroad line between Miami and West Palm Beach, is well under way. It is Phase 2 that is now precarious.

AAF, whose parent company – Florida East Coast Industries – is owned by the hedge fund Fortress Investment Group, approached the state nearly three years ago with a plan to build and operate a privately owned railroad that would allow passengers to travel from Miami to Cocoa and from there to Orlando. AAF claims that trains would shave at least an hour off the drive time by car.

Ann Henson Feltgen, FloridaBulldog.org, Special to SouthFloridaReporter.com, May 26, 2017

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