ON THE HEELS OF FEDERAL JUDGE CHRISTOPHER COOPER ISSUING ORDERS granting Indian River and Martin County’s motions to expedited discovery, on July 7, 2015 Attorneys Sugundo J. Fernandez and Timothy P. Atkinson, from the Tallahassee firm, Oerjel, Fernandez, Bryant & Atkinson, representing St. Lucie County, submitted a 507 page Critical Assessment document to Mr. John Winkle of the United States Department of Transportation (FDOT) Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) concerning All Aboard Florida’s (AAF) Draft Environmental Impact Statement DEIS) dated September 2014.
The document, dated June 2015, is entitled A Critical Assessment of the USDOT Federal Railroad Administration’s Draft Environmental Statement and Section (4f) Evaluation for the Proposed All Aboard Florida Intercity Passenger Rail Project. It is included here in a PDF format.
In their cover letter, Attorneys Fernandez and Atkinson, indicated that on November 13, 2014 St. Lucie County submitted comments to the FDOT FRA and that “the comments have not been addressed.”
Further, they indicated “a review of the document has revealed a shocking lack of analysis regarding the basic aspect of the project, which includes, but are not limited to the possible routes for the railway itself.”
Because of “grave concerns, especially in the areas of rail safety, traffic safety, environment and protected species and cultural and historical impacts,” St. Lucie county retained four expert consultants “to address the many factual deficiencies in the DEIS.” Their work comprises the Critical Assessment document.
Triad Railroad Consulting, LLC was retained to analyze safety impacts.
Morris-Depew & Associates were retained to analyze traffic impacts.
Passarella & Associates, Inc. were retained to analyze wetlands and listed species.
And Archaeological and Historical Conservancy, Inc. was retained to analyze Cultural Resources.
In closing, Attorneys Fernandez and Atkinson, wrote that “the DEIS dated September 2014 is inadequate, invalid, and fails to comply with the minimum requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). Accordingly, St Lucie County demands that the USDOT Federal Railway Administration reject the DEIS as inadequate and insufficient, and refrain from issuing a Final Environmental Impact Statement until all deficiencies have been cured, a valid alternative analysis is conducted, adequate mitigation of adverse impacts is identified, and compliance with the NEPA is assured.”
Could there be another lawsuit in the waiting?
Indian River, Martin and St. Lucie County just filled up AAF president P. Michael Reininger’s plate.