Canaveral Port Authority Clarifies Myths About Proposed Rail Extension
By Canaveral Port Authority // May 4, 2015
BREVARD COUNTY • PORT CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – The Canaveral Port Authority issued a fact sheet to clarify plans to construct and operate approximately 11 miles of new rail line to Port Canaveral in Brevard County, Florida.
The proposed Port Canaveral Rail Extension would also utilize approximately 17 miles of existing rail line at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s John F. Kennedy Space Center (KSC) to make a connection with a main line of the Florida East Coast Railway.
The proposed rail line would begin near the Port’s North Cargo Area, extend west over the Banana River, enter KSC on Merritt Island south of Kars Park, and then turn north through KSC grounds where it would connect with KSC’s existing rail line.
The construction and operation of this proposed project has the potential to result in significant environmental impacts; therefore, the Board’s Office of Environmental Analysis (OEA) has determined that the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is appropriate pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).
“We believe it is time to invest in America again,” said the Canaveral Port Authority.
“We need a strong infrastructure and to connect major transportation assets like rail and seaports and airports to sustain and grow jobs.
“We at Port Canaveral believe in America. We believe in our obligation to invest in creating jobs and opportunity and putting America back to work in Brevard County.”
10 Myths vs. Facts on the Port Canaveral To Florida East Coast Connection
Myth 1: The rail will be built on causeways and block river flow.
FACT 1: If the currently proposed Kennedy Space Center rail extension alignment is selected, the crossing of the Banana River will not be on an earth-filled causeway or berm.
The rail crossing of the Banana River will be on an elevated concrete trestle with a bascule bridge at the Banana River Navigation Channel. The trestle will not impede flow in the Banana River.
Myth 2: The project will harm sea grasses.
FACT 2: The EIS process will scientifically study all sea grass impacts.
To mitigate any possible impacts, the Port-proposed north rail area can be constructed with an enhanced foundation region to create new and vibrant sea grass areas to help improve lagoon quality for future generations.
Myth 3: The crossing will harm the Banana River Lagoon.
FACT 3: The pile-supported trestle crossing will allow water to flow freely.
We are currently researching whether oyster net systems placed on each column could help filter pollutants from the water in a natural way. Also, Florida Institute of Technology scientists claim they can create a seawater baffle system for water flush capabilities to enhance the lagoon system and its sea grass beds.
Port Canaveral supports this logical, scientific approach and continues to work with multiple agencies and scientists in all areas to support a healthy lagoon system. We believe that in working with environmental professionals, we can enhance, not harm, the lagoon system.
Myth 4: The trains will be too close to homes.
FACT 4: The proposed route would be built on Kennedy Space Center lands, an existing Industrial Space Complex, and this route was chosen to avoid heavily populated residential areas.
With NASA’s cooperation on this route, not a single homeowner’s private land will be touched. NASA has recommended a 15 mph maximum speed on trains operated on KSC lands. The port, at the request of NASA, has conducted extensive noise and vibration testing along the existing
Additional noise analysis will be conducted as part of the EIS. The noise and vibration is anticipated to be minimal.
Myth 5: Horns and signals will be loud and keep people up.
FACT 5: The Federal Railroad Administration rules allow for silent zone crossings, and the Port intends to apply for the establishment of such zones, in which case no horn signal would be required.
Myth 6: The rail will ruin preserve regions.
FACT 6: The proposed route was selected by a team of environmental scientists and engineers and curves specifically to minimize effects on critical scrub jay habitats, eagles’ nests and pristine wetlands.
To the extent that additional mitigation may be required, the Port will comply with applicable state and federal environmental standards and methods.
Myth 7: Diesel trains will pollute the air.
FACT 7: Florida East Coast is converting to clean LNG-fueled engines, and today’s diesel engines burn very low sulfur clean fuel.
Train freight actually improves regional air quality by removing significant volumes of truck traffic off our roads. Trains are one of our nation’s greenest transportation systems.
CLICK HERE for information regarding the environmental impacts of different modes of transportation.
Myth 8: The Port doesn’t really need rail.
FACT 8: Your seaport is expanding to serve the fast-growing Central Florida region.
Port Canaveral is one of the few seaports in the Southeast that can achieve the 55-foot depth needed to support ocean freighters currently being built.
Not only does Port Canaveral need rail, but our nation also needs us to have rail connections. Seaports and transportation systems are critical for our nation’s future in growing exports.
We have to build transportation infrastructure to compete in the global marketplace and support job growth in the local and regional communities.
Myth 9: Manatees, dolphins and sea life will be destroyed by a rail bridge.
FACT 9: The rail bridge, like all other port construction, can and will be installed in responsible ways to minimize and mitigate any effects on marine life.
Many studies show that marine life flourish under bridges and prefer shaded regions. Improved sea grass areas will enhance lagoon feeding areas, while placing oyster mats on columns will generate better water quality in the region.
Recent studies show an increase in many marine populations despite the challenges we all know currently exist within the lagoon.
Myth 10: The rail is the cause of lagoon issues.
FACT 10: The rail extension does not exist yet and, therefore, has caused no current issues.
Many causes – lawn fertilizers, septic systems, storm runoff and sewage plant dump – and many years of various naturally-occurring and man-driven issues are indeed taking their tolls.
Port Canaveral, as a proud environmental steward in our region, shares in the concerns related to our lagoon systems. We are currently and will continue to be committed to protecting our region, its waters and the environment as a whole.
Our harbor is comprised of some of the cleanest port waters in the world. Our beach, sea turtle, marine mammal and sea life efforts are vital programs.
Each of the proposed rail paths under this current $3.5 million environmental impact study has the purpose of permitting rail to create interstate commerce in a way that indeed can, and will be, friendly to the environment.
The most current information from the Surface Transportation Board can be found on the Port Canaveral Rail Extension project website at PortCanaveralRaileis.com
CLICK HERE for more information about Port Canaveral and upcoming community meetings.