rachelrenee70 at gmail.com
Sun Mar 25 15:33:33 EDT 2012
Email me off list when you get the chance. Rachelrenee70 at gmail.com
From: fcb-l-bounces at acb.org [mailto:fcb-l-bounces at acb.org] On Behalf Of Mary
Sent: Sunday, March 25, 2012 11:01 AM
To: fcb-l at acb.org; licib85 at yahoo.com; Bob Lassone; Bob Straughn; Carol
Thomas; Cassandra; Chris Dixon; Dan Grau; David J. Lang; Donna R Corson;
Douglas E. Hall; Edward Hudson; frank andrews; Helen Straughn; Irene Hewett;
Jan Harden; john Harden; Kathleen Trutschel; Kati Lear; Kurt A. Ottman; Leo
Thompson; Lois Butterfield; Mark Lear; Mary Tyson; Maryellen Ottman; 'Mike
Bowmer'; Nancy Burgess-Hall; Patricia Lipovsky; Randy Randall; Renea C.
Keough; Scott Larson; Steve Williamson; Sue Kupchunas; Suzy Hipple; Teresa
Faye Harden; Virginia Waeffler
Subject: [fcb-l] FYI
Liability settled, but Jax-Miami Amtrak service still faces hurdles
By EILEEN ZAFFIRO-KEAN, Staff writer
<mailto:eileen.zaffiro-kean at news-jrnl.com> send an email to
eileen.zaffiro-kean at news-jrnl.com
March 25, 2012 12:50 AM
DAYTONA BEACH -- All aboard! The train is leaving -- in about two or three
That's the new goal for the proposed Amtrak passenger service that could run
along tracks between Jacksonville and Miami with a stop in Daytona Beach --
an idea that's been tossed around for more than a decade -- if everything
falls into place.
Energized by a crucial bill on liability adopted by the state Legislature
two weeks ago, many of those pushing for passenger trains to make the
350-mile journeys every day say it's just a matter of time now.
"I am very confident it will happen," said Jim Cameron, senior vice
president of government relations for the Daytona Regional Chamber of
Commerce. "The chamber here will make every resource it has available to
make sure it happens."
Mayor Glenn Ritchey also sees the project being resurrected.
"It looks like it's beginning to get some momentum again," Ritchey said. "It
does seem to have a renewed life."
Inside a meeting room at City Hall Friday morning, dozens of believers will
put their heads together to figure out how to keep the project speeding
toward their goal. Filling the City Commission chambers will be leaders from
towns along the proposed line and top officials with Amtrak, the Florida
Department of Transportation and the Space Coast Transportation Planning
At stake for Daytona Beach and seven other cities that would have stations
are chances to draw more tourists, offer a new mode of transportation and
sprout new businesses in timeworn parts of town that haven't bustled in
"We feel it could bring a new type of tourist to this area," Cameron said.
He sees an opportunity to attract day trippers and offer package deals
covering the cost of tickets, a hotel room and meals for people heading to
Daytona International Speedway and Peabody Auditorium.
Cameron and other city leaders would ultimately like to see a new gift shop,
restaurants, a car rental operation and other businesses spring up around
the Daytona station site south of International Speedway Boulevard near City
"We want this," said Emory Counts, the city's community and economic
development director. "We think it's a great economic tool."
ONE HURDLE CLEARED
With such a major economic jolt enticing them, local leaders up and down the
state's East Coast are ready to do what it takes. But they know there's hard
The next big step will be for Amtrak, Florida East Coast Railway and the
state Department of Transportation to draw up an operating agreement for the
project. Once that happens, it would take another two years to put all the
other pieces in place.
Over the past decade the project has bolted forward at times, only to be
slowed to a laborious chug by exhaustive environmental study requirements
and repeated rejections for federal funding.
Getting over the liability hurdle was huge, those involved with the project
"This was an essential part of the plan we had to have to get to the next
stage," Cameron said.
At issue with liability was state-owned track at the southern end of the
route, said Kim DeLaney, strategic development coordinator for the Treasure
Coast Regional Planning Council in Stuart.
The transportation bill that included an amendment addressing the rail
service liability went to Gov. Rick Scott on Friday, and he has seven days
now to sign it. Project leaders are confident Scott will take the final step
to adopt the legislation, which will apportion liability according to degree
of fault on a case-by-case basis.
MORE HURDLES REMAIN
The Florida East Coast Railway tracks that would be used for most of the
Jacksonville-Miami route haven't had passengers on them for more than four
The idea to restore service on the line that parallels Interstate 95 through
11 counties includes adding stops in eight cities: St. Augustine; Daytona
Beach; Titusville; Cocoa; Melbourne; Vero Beach; Fort Pierce; and Stuart. No
stops are planned for Flagler County.
The trip along the new line would take about six and a half hours from one
end to the other, with trains reaching a top speed of 80 mph between
The effort to start the service went into full gear a few years ago. The
state Department of Transportation has since set aside $118 million in its
five-year budget, and the money could be available in July 2013.
Efforts to secure federal money, however, have failed. Applications for
about $132 million in federal dollars in 2009 and 2010 were both rejected,
and the program that offered that federal money no longer exists.
There are currently no federal programs to apply to, officials have said.
U.S. Rep. John Mica, a Republican from Winter Park, serves as chairman of
the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and could be an ally.
But Mica isn't sold on the project.
He has said he wants to see estimates on the number of riders along the
line, and how much money would be made or lost.
"Unless the ridership is there, I don't want the state and local governments
losing money," Mica said recently.
ADJUSTING TO REALITY
Well aware they might never get a check from Washington, D.C., project
leaders are coming up with financial survival strategies.
The $250 million project has been scaled back to fit the monetary reality,
The original idea was to have trains run at 90 mph between stations, but
that requires sophisticated engineering improvements for the tracks, DeLaney
said. Reducing the speed to 80 mph could hold down track improvement costs,
Another idea is to scrap the original plan of running two trains round trip
per day to one train per day.
Those two adjustments "should bring the cost down significantly," DeLaney
said, but did not specify what the reduced price tag would be.
Costs could also be covered by recruiting private businesses to partner on
the project. One idea is for businesses to give money in exchange for having
their names advertised on signs at a station, Cameron said.
A final plan hasn't been drawn up yet, so cities don't know everything they
would have to pay. They can expect to probably cover costs for land
acquisition, station maintenance, landscaping and at least some -- if not
all -- expenses for station construction.
Daytona city leaders say they're not sure yet how they would pay for
everything. The state's $118 million would be used mainly for track
improvements, but some state dollars could also go for a small building to
sell tickets if that's all a city wanted, DeLaney said.
Last week, Daytona Beach city commissioners approved a plan to plug an $8.7
million budget hole and city officials are talking about raising an array of
their fees to make ends meet. But the current financial struggles shouldn't
knock Daytona Beach off the list of cities with stations along the line,
said City Manager Jim Chisholm.
"If we were forced to make a decision now and spend money it'd be a
problem," Chisholm said. "By the time something happens the financial
picture should change."
Mayor Ritchey said the dollars will have to be found somehow.
"I think it would be important enough for our community to raise the money,"
Ritchey said. "It would be a great economic benefit."
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Size: 722 bytes
Desc: not available
More information about the fcb-l