A federal judge has dismissed a legal challenge filed by two Florida counties against the proposed All Aboard Florida express railway project.
Indian River County and Martin County lack the standing to sue, U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper said in the 21-page decision issued late Wednesday.
“The Court is mindful of the vigorous debate in Central and South Florida over whether the express railway should be built,” Cooper wrote. “But the relative merits of the project are not for this Court to decide.”
The All Aboard Florida project envisions express railway service connecting Orlando and Miami. Although the 235-mile project will be privately owned and operated, its backers seek public assistance to finance construction of the Orlando to West Palm Beach segment of the line.
The two counties allege the railway will cause a variety of environmental harms, and they charged in the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. that the Department of Transportation acted prematurely in approving tax-exempt bonds before completion of a key environmental study.
“The counties have stumbled at the threshold of standing,” Cooper said.