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Jac Wilder VerSteeg: You can’t get there from here without a lawyer

All modes of transportation suddenly are controversial here in South Florida.

Most amusingly, Donald Trump has sued to stop Palm Beach International Airport from flying jets over his estate at Mar-a-Lago on Palm Beach. The lawsuit alleges the county is maliciously rerouting the planes to target him. He wants $100 million. It’s the latest in a long line of challenges to the airport, which – because of its location – flies planes over some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

Meanwhile, opponents of All Aboard Florida are trying to line up political and legal clout to stop the $2.5 billion plan to establish a quick rail link between Miami and Orlando, with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Many political leaders love the plan, which includes sleek new rail terminals in the blessed cities. But others are hostile – particularly on the Treasure Coast, which won’t have stops or terminals but will get all the hassle of noise and frequent trains stalling traffic at crossings.

Boaters also are upset with All Aboard Florida, which they claim will stall watercraft at bridges as well. They complain that the Coast Guard is not sufficiently looking after their safety and interests.

So much for planes and trains. Automobiles are not exempt from the new frenzy. Taxi drivers in Broward County are, like cab companies elsewhere, battling against the rise of Uber, which allows customers to arrange rides by smartphone. Uber operates without licenses, fees and other regulations that apply to regulated taxis. So Uber rides are much cheaper. Broward cabbies have now demanded that the County Commission free them from fees and limits on picking up passengers at the airport.

Traditional modes of automobile traffic also are headed for legal and political challenges. For example, the vast Minto West development in west-central Palm Beach County is a likely legal target as opponents try to overturn the controversial County Commission approval. Traffic serving the proposed 4,500 homes and 2.1 million square feet of commercial space will be an issue.

Traffic also will be an issue as developers pursue another megadevelopment – known as Avenir – to the north in Palm Beach Gardens. That one, by the way, already has bumped into some warnings from the North Palm Beach County Airport, which doesn’t want to be listening to noise complaints if Avenir ever gets built.

Transportation controversy even has extended to golf carts. The Village of Wellington, an equestrian center, has been concerned by recent accidents involving people driving the vehicles on roads and sidewalks. The vehicles are a threat to pedestrians and horses, officials say. Whether the village should crack down – by issuing more tickets – has become a matter of great controversy.

All methods of getting from here to there have become quite contentious. This can be a bonanza for lawyers. In South Florida, all roads – and railways and waterways and airways and sidewalks – lead to court.

Jac Wilder VerSteeg is editor of Context Florida. 

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