Brightline Railroad and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) have requested a $25 million federal grant as part of a $45 million safety project (Brightline, FDOT request federal grant for safety enhancement measures at railroad crossings).
Brightline and FDOT are each contributing $10 million to the Florida East Coast Trespassing and Intrusion Mitigation Project and are asking for an additional $25 million from the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The funds would be used to provide safety enhancements all across the 195-mile Florida corridor covered by the Brightline tracks between Miami and West Palm Beach.
The state of Florida has the second-highest rate of fatalities per track mile in the United States. Brightline trains in particular have been responsible for 63 deaths in Florida since opening for business in 2018. There were recently three train collisions in the span of four days in Palm Beach County alone.
Brightline is currently performing construction that would increase traffic along the corridor to as many as 60 trains a day by 2023. Whereas today Brightline trains have a maximum speed of 79 miles per hour, they are expected to reach top speeds of 110 miles per hour and eventually even 125 miles per hour.
Officials associated with the project estimate that 146 accidents will be prevented over the next two decades, saving 95 lives. According to Ben Porritt, Brightline’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, the project displays the company’s “commitment to improving safety along the Corridor.”
“Unfortunately, I think it’s too little too late,” said Susan Mehiel of the Safe Train Alliance. “What we’re finding is that the taxpayers, to save lives, are picking up the tab. But that’s better than letting it continue as it has been.”
This is yet another perfect example of a huge corporation inadvertently showing the public that it could easily make its business safer as long as someone else is willing to pay for it. It is long past time to hold these companies responsible for their failure to keep their customers and the public safe.
If you have been injured in a railroad accident, it is crucial that you hire an experienced personal injury attorney. Please call Davis, Bethune & Jones today at 1-800-875-5972 for a free consultation.