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Amtrak derailment fuels concern from Martin County locals against Brightline

Posted at 7:13 PM, Dec 18, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-18 19:44:13-05

It's too early to tell if speed was a factor in the Amtrak train derailment in Washington, but speed and safety is an important reason why people in Martin County oppose Brightline's phase two. 

Starting next year, some Stuart business owners and locals will see Brightline's construction headed their way. 

"I can't even believe it got this far," said Trina Langston, owner of Simple Pleasures Bath and Body in Downtown Stuart. 
The Brightline passenger rail project received the final approval it needed to start its expansion to Orlando. The 110 mile-per-hour passenger train would stop in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and then zip through Martin, St. Lucie, and Indian River Counties with no stops to its final destination, Orlando. 

"Have you watched the news the past 6 months? How many times have you seen derailment? It happens at least weekly, we see it on the news," said Langston.  

The derailment of an Amtrak train launching on its inaugural run from Seattle to Portland and has Langston worried. 

"Think if the train derailed here this can affect everything," said Langston.

The train tracks run right through Downtown Stuart's most well known intersection, confusion corner.

Although some are worried about what could go wrong being so close to a high speed train, it doesn't cross Steven Navarro's mind. 

"You have chance of getting into a car wreck, you got a chance of crossing the street and getting hit," said Navarro when talking about the odds of having the train derail near his home. 

Brightline is expected to launch its service from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale before the year is over. The appeal of the high speed passenger train is undeniable. 

"You just be like tourists; relax, read a book and sight see," said Jacob Middleton in West Palm Beach.

"I'm excited. I can't wait to have it start. I think it's going to be a great mode of transportation," said Cathy Graham in West Palm Beach.

Hopping on board a high-speed passenger train and cutting time off your commutes to Miami, Fort Lauderdale and eventually Orlando. 

"I'm looking forward to going up to Orlando mostly with my grandchildren," said Graham. 

There are also concerns that freight trains carrying liquefied natural gas would run alongside Brightline trains traveling at high speeds in South Florida. 

"There's always a danger with freight I'm afraid," said Phil Chadeayne of Vero Beach. 

The Florida East Coast Railway said there are no special requirements for moving liquefied natural gas or any other commodity alongside passenger trains. It's done all over the country. 

Brightline is supposed to begin construction on the expansion to Orlando in the first quarter of 2018.