Private Ownership Doesn’t Spare Florida Higher Speed Rail From NIMBYs
After Florida Governor Rick Scott controversially killed the state’s plans for true high speed trains in 2011, the private sector jumped in to fill the gap. Since Florida is an excellent place to build bullet trains, as is California, it was an obvious place for companies to try and provide new service.
All Aboard Florida is proposed to connect Orlando to Miami via West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale with 32 daily trains traveling at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. It’s considered “higher speed rail” and while it’s less useful to the state than the plan that Governor Scott canceled, it would still be a good thing to build.
But in a development that should surprise nobody, it doesn’t matter what the speeds are or who builds and operates it – there’s always NIMBYs out to destroy a rail project:
The mighty Florida East Coast Industries’ Railroad finds itself up against small grass roots groups trying to stop an already approved project.
“Do you think you guys can stop this?” we asked.
“Absolutely. You can stop anything,” said Alex Larson, opposed to the project….
“A high speed train carrying a few thousand passengers a day will go through the middle of a region where hundreds of thousands of people live and work and depend on vehicles to do so,” Scott said.
Today railroad officials told the council the trains will only disrupt traffic for a few minutes at a time. The time of a stoplight. And the FEC says its their investment paid for with private funds. Local leaders said that’s not true.
“Yes its very private and we cant disclose our financing. Are you kidding me?” said Alex Larson, who is opposed to the rail project. “That was just revealed today we will be closing down 2 streets in West Palm Beach. Datura and Evernia, and I am like are you kidding me?”
It’s the same sad story as we’ve seen in California as well. Residents who believe that their cities should be oriented around the automobile react with furious anger at the very notion of passenger rail service, convinced it will turn their neighborhoods into some kind of ruined wasteland. They scream and shout and rage against anyone who dares defend the proposed rail line, and refuse to listen to reason, evidence, or common sense.
I have no way of knowing whether this opposition is widespread or not, or whether it will have any impact on the All Aboard Florida plan. I hope it won’t, and that the project will continue ahead as planned.
But what this shows is that no matter where you propose putting a passenger rail line, there will always be NIMBYs there to do everything in their power to try and stop it. Those who claim that the California HSR project would have not faced lawsuits and attacks from NIMBYs if it had just chosen some other route are deluding themselves and are willfully blind to the evidence that is all around them.
Ultimately, laws need to be changed to remove NIMBYs’ ability to slow or stop passenger rail projects. There’s no good reason why we should be wasting time or money on appeasing these people.