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Martin County pulls out of Brightline lawsuit challenging Phase 2 funding, still claims 'victory'

Posted at 11:45 PM, Jul 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-10 23:48:07-04

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. -- Brightline trains are still on schedule to start running on the tracks between Miami and West Palm Beach this summer.

Still, Brightline is searching for funding to finish Phase 2 of the route through the Treasure Coast to Orlando, and many Martin County residents hope that will not happen.

Martin County Senior Assistant County Attorney, Ruth Holmes, says the county backed out of a lawsuit that challenged a request made by Brightline for bonds to pay for the Treasure Coast extension.

Contrary to how that sounds, Holmes says it is actually a ‘victory’ for the concerned residents and business owners in Martin County.

Holmes says the county was able to back out of the lawsuit because Brightline already backed out of the request for bonds, making the lawsuit unnecessary.

“We got what we wanted. We’re out,” Holmes said.

But, Holmes says that doesn’t mean the fight is over.

“We’re still in the thick of it,” Holmes said.

Brightline representative, Ali Soule, says they are still looking for financing and finalizing permits, and in no way slowing down their efforts to continue traveling north.
“We look forward to continuing to work with the communities in the Treasure Coast, especially on partnerships with quiet zones, similar to our efforts in South Florida. These are important steps forward as we build a transportation system for Florida’s future,” Soule said in a statement.

Holmes says the county will continue challenging various permits for Brightline, including one Brightline was recently given from the South Florida Water Management District.

County leaders say they are doing their part to make sure the county is protected.

“If this train is going to approved, its going to be a really good permit for the citizens and natural resources of martin county,” Holmes said.

Residents are glad to see the county continuing to fight for their interests.

Lou Ronzo’s manager, Guiseppe Pane, is worried about the impact Brightline trains would have near the downtown Stuart restaurant.
“I think traffic has always been an issue, and the train, I don’t think it will help. I actually think it will make it a little worse,” Pane said.

Residents who live near the tracks agree.

“I’m extremely against it,” said Karen Segalla. “There’s no benefit at all. They’re not giving anything to us. But, they are inconveniencing us, big time,” Segalla said.

Supporters of the train say there is a need for more transportation options between Miami and Orlando.