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$10 million for quiet zones cash tucked into state spending plan

by John Kennedy | April 27th, 2014

House budget chief Seth McKeel, R-Lakeland, and his Senate counterpart, Joe Negron, R-Stuart, huddle before Sunday conference meeting.

House and Senate budget negotiators agreed Sunday to create a $10 million grant program to pay for railroad crossing upgrades needed in Palm Beach County and elsewhere in anticipation of the passenger rail project All Aboard Florida.

The Senate earlier proposed the spending for the so-called quiet zones. But its fate was uncertain until Sunday when the House signed-off on the plan amid talks aimed at settling a $75 billion state budget for 2014-15.

Elected officials from throughout the coastal areas of Palm Beach County, working largely through the Palm Beach Metropolitan Planning Organization, had asked the state for help the work needed.

The express private service would run from Miami to Orlando with stops in Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. But the added 32 trains a day have residents and business owners near the Florida East Coast Railroad tracks worried about noise, traffic congestion and boating delays.

The $2.5 billion rail project – whose price tag recently spiked – is already controversial.

While the quiet zone provision was tucked into the Senate budget by Sen. Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, Senate Budget Chief Joe Negron, R-Stuart, on Sunday reiterated that the spending should not be taken as support for the project.

“I haven’t come around to that,” Negron said. “There’s support in the Legislature for quiet zones so there’s money…but it’s not money I personally advocated for. There is agreement on the amount.”

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One Response to “$10 million for quiet zones cash tucked into state spending plan”

  1. Larry Flagler Says:

    Either this is a joke or Florida politicians are seriously asleep at the switch. $10 million is a drop in the bucket compared to what a full complement of four-quadrant gates will cost up and down the east coast between Miami and Cocoa. People need to wake up and smell the coffee. A well-respected engineering firm, Wilbur Smith Associates (no I don’t work for them) did a Quiet Zone study for Berkeley, California in 2009 and another for Oakland, California in 2011. Now Florida is not California, but they estimated in 2009 that four-quadrant gates would cost $600,000 a set and in their 2011 study that figure had increased to $1,000,000 a set. That’s potentially a million dollars per crossing for the four-quad gate treatment of crossings. Tell me again about the $10 million the state is going to kick in. No wonder AAF is crying foul about $47 million for “safety” upgrades. They know full well that the total is going to be MUCH more than that.

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