VERO BEACH – At least two members of Indian River County’s transportation planning board are concerned not enough information has been made available on the feasibility of the Amtrak passenger rail service currently planned to have a stop in downtown Vero Beach.
Vero Beach City Councilman Craig Fletcher and County Commissioner Bob Solari both expressed concerns about the lack of financial data at Wednesday’s Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting.
Solari raised the issue in advance of his planned request to have his fellow commissioners rescind their previous resolution of support for the rail service.
“Quite frankly, we can’t afford this,” Solari said, pointing to the current state of the economy.
He added that he has yet to see any financial information, which he said he needs in order to make a decision.
Fletcher expressed similar misgivings, but added that he is neither for nor against passenger rail service – he just wants information.
“I also have huge concerns,” Fletcher said. He added he, too, is having difficulty getting financial information regarding what the cost to local communities would be to have the train.
Solari added another of his concerns has to do with local funding at time when budgets are so tight.
He said he fear he has, which might be unfounded, is that if the county were to shell out funds for the train, other transportation dollars might have to be cut – specifically for GoLine, the county’s free bus service.
He said funds could be diminished for GoLine if the county must fund the train.
“It astounds me,” Sebastian City Councilman Eugene Wolff said, of how America is supposedly the richest nation in the world, yet can’t afford high-speed rail.
“We’re supposed to be the leaders of the world,” he said.
The Amtrak service would not be high-speed rail service.
“Economics is about choices,” Solari said, pointing out that America’s choices have been to provide services such as Medicaid and Medicare – while countries such as China have not.