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Vero Beach, Fla., eyes Amtrak-station sites

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The historic railroad station north of 23rd Street could be back in service for customers under proposed passenger rail service in the region, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. Other possible station locations being considered for Vero Beach include the area of downtown near Pocahontas Park and at the old Diesel Power Plant south of eastbound State Road 60. Possible start date for the service is October 2012.

The Florida Department of
Transportation in July filed a pre-application for a $70-million grant for new
rail service between Jacksonville and Miami along the state’s East Coast. A
formal application is expected to be made by October and the final grant number
may be closer to $100 million.

The money would come from
the federal government’s $8-billion economic stimulus package for intercity
passenger and high-speed rail projects.

Vero Beach, Fort Pierce and
Stuart would be among the eight stops planned along the route, which would hook
up with other routes in Jacksonville and take passengers all the way to New
York. Initial plans are to have northbound and southbound trains daily, with up
to 11 cars that would pick up passengers waiting along 1,000-foot-long
platforms. The trip from Jacksonville to Miami is estimated to take 6.5 to 7
hours.

Amtrak passenger service
had been proposed in 2002, but the idea was abandoned after the federal
government ordered the rail service to restructure its debt.

Rail service, even in larger
markets, has to be subsidized through tax dollars. Kim DeLaney, growth management
coordinator for the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, said this is true
for other transportation systems as well, with the highway system being the
most subsidized.

One of the potential
benefits of the service, DeLaney said, is a reduction of traffic on Interstate
95, which could lessen the need for further expansion of the roadway. Other
benefits include economic development and a reduction in carbon emissions.

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