County Commission Votes 5-0 In Favor of Barfield’s Port Cargo Railway Resolution
By Kathy Reakes // September 4, 2015
asked CPA to seek alternative route
ABOVE VIDEO: Brevard County District 2 Commissioner Jim Barfield wants to make one thing clear when it comes to a resolution he drafted opposing a proposed cargo railway that would service Port Canaveral – he isn’t against the rail, he’s against where port officials have proposed to build it.
BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Brevard County District 2 Commissioner Jim Barfield wants to make one thing clear when it comes to a resolution he drafted opposing a proposed cargo railway that would service Port Canaveral – he isn’t against the rail, he’s against where port officials have proposed to build it.
The non-binding resolution, which passed unanimously during Thursday night’s Commission meeting, asked the Canaveral Port Authority to seek an alternative route for the railway that would run over the Banana River and through the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
The commission also asked that the port meet with them for a workshop to discuss their differences on the plans.
There are three potential routes being considered for the railway to connect with the mainland. The other two include a route that runs through the Canaveral Air Force Station to the port and a route that run alongside State Road 528.
Port officials have said that the railway will draw hundreds of jobs to the area and increase their reach across the country.
They also suggested that the railway would create new local businesses that would cater to shipping companies that would move to the port once they have a more efficient way to ship their goods.
Residents against the railway packed the Commission Chambers to support Barfield’s resolution and to send a message to port officials that they would not stand for a railway that might damage the refuge, or bring down their property values.
The port has eminent domain over much of the area any of the railways would run, a fact that has residents concerned that their property values would decrease if a railway is built in their area.
John and Ann McLure’s home backs-up to the refuge where the couple watches wildlife daily.
“It would just break our hearts if a railway took that away, said JohnMcLure. “We see cougars and all types of wildlife. It’s not something we can let happen.”
Many residents spoke of the port’s “arrogance” after a port official publicly accused Barfield of being “misguided” and “uninformed” about the plan.
Commissioner Andy Anderson said he was concerned no one from the Port attended the meeting.
Chris Cook, president of the North Merritt Island Homeowners Association, suggested the Port has not taken the public’s concern into consideration.
“The port has failed to have a meaningful dialogue with residents,” said Cook. “This plan is not compatible with our neighborhood,” he added.
The port released a statement shortly after the meeting saying they were “extremely disappointed” in the commission’s decision:
The Brevard County Commission passed a resolution, sponsored by Commissioner Jim Barfield, that opposed proposed routes for the Port Canaveral Rail Extension.
The Canaveral Port Authority (CPA) and its commissioners are extremely disappointed in the passing of this non-binding resolution.
The CPA and its commissioners respect the opinion of the Brevard County Commission and asks residents and community leaders to be patient. Their comments have been heard and have become part of the federally mandated process that is being headed by the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB).
There will be additional times in the future to submit comments in writing and attend public meetings to voice opinions about the rail extension and the different route alternatives.
The Canaveral Port Authority would like to remind the public that no decision on the project will be made until after the environmental review process has been completed.
The need for the rail came to the forefront after the port signed a deal with a company based in the United Arab Emirates that would like access to ship its goods across the country.
Currently, the plan is in the middle of a long review by the federal government that includes review by the federal Surface Transportation Board of the port’s proposal. The STB will provide suggestions to the port regarding the best route for the railway.
The most current information on the Port Canaveral Rail Extension can be found on the STB project website at PortCanaveralRaileis.com. For more information about Port Canaveral and ongoing projects, visit PortCanaveral.com.