During a conference call late Thursday morning, the anti-rail group Citizens Against Rail Expansion in Florida inveighed against a plan backed by Gov. Rick Scott to build more rail lines in the Treasure Coast and Palm Beach County areas.
Its main bone of contention is an April poll conducted by Mason-Dixon that CARE says offers stark evidence that the public-private deal between the state of Florida and private engineering firms to add Miami-to-Orlando high speed passenger rail service — All Aboard Florida — is unpopular.
“Today’s poll results speak loud and clear: All Aboard Florida is not embraced by residents in the Treasure Coast and North Palm Beach County,” said Brent Hanlon, CARE FL’s treasurer. “Our residents understand what’s at stake if this ill-conceived project manages to go forward: more traffic, more threats to area businesses, and less access to our area hospitals. With this poll we are telling our elected leader and those who are pushing this project: Slow down and listen to our community.”
The group also emphasized that state lawmakers are in their corner — and that the ones who aren’t ought to reconsider.
“The residents of the Treasure Coast are standing up for what they believe is a direct threat to our safety and our rights as taxpayers,” Vero Beach Rep. Debbie Mayfield said in a prepared statement. “We should not have to absorb the cost of a project that provides our community with so little in return. I join our residents in urging the project’s planners to slow down and listen to us.”
Among the poll’s findings were that among a sample of registered voters on a blend of both land lines and cell phones:
- 80 percent are opposed to AAF while only 15 percent support it;
- Most significantly, 68 percent of local voters are “strongly opposed” to AAF;
- 77 percent think AAF will make traffic conditions worse while only 4 percent think they will improve;
- A majority, 53 percent, think local businesses will be hurt by AAF, and;
- That 59 percent think AAF will slow down response times for police, fire and medical emergency units in the communities along the tracks.