City of WPB vs. All Aboard Florida: Who Should Pay For New Road?
November 10, 2014
(West Palm Beach, FL) – When All Aboard Florida builds its downtown West Palm Beach station, two streets will be permanently closed to make room for the platform.
Those closures have the potential to snarl traffic around the station and on nearby downtown streets.
Because of that risk, the City has insisted from the beginning that the railroad build a new road to relieve the problem.
The $2 million dollar questions is: Who should pay for the construction of that new road?
During Monday’s City Commission meeting, the issue of who should foot the bill for the road was on the agenda.
“What I’m not OK with is the city footing the bill to build that road,” said a visibly frustrated West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio.
“We [the city] said all along that if you are going to close two of our streets, you need to build a collector road. We’ve asked All Aboard Florida since the very beginning to take responsibility and build the collector road. The only thing we’ve asked for is a collector road, and for some reason we are still talking about us paying for it,” said Muoio.
The road would run along side the west side of the tracks from Clematis Street to Fern Street, and would potentially relieve some issues caused by permanently closing both Datura and Evernia Streets at the tracks.
But All Aboard Florida says the road the city wants isn’t necessary according to their research.
“Our traffic studies show that we do not need this [road],” said Jose Gonzalez, Executive Vice President with FECI, All Aboard Florida’s parent company.
All Aboard Florida officials say they have already made several concessions in their planning that have increased costs. They say giving the impression that the railroad hasn’t done anything to improve the plans is inaccurate.
Both Datura and Evernia streets are expected to be permanently closed in January when the railroad begins construction of the station.
Mayor Muoio urged the commission to make sure the city doesn’t give All Aboard Florida everything it wants regarding zoning changes without making sure the railroad first promises to give the city something in return.
“We have bent over backward. We have been 100% supportive of this project,… but we haven’t seen anything in return. That’s where I am stuck.”
No final decisions were made regarding the road during the meeting.