In what could end up being a long-term victory for homeowners, environmentalists and anglers in Brevard County, the Canaveral Port Authority on Friday submitted its supplemental feasibility study on using the existing SR 528 transportation corridor for its embattled cargo rail extension.
In the report, which can be found here, the CPA states that the utilization of the SR 528 corridor is “feasible,” but that “additional feasibility issues could arise.” The CPA also stated that they didn’t have an idea on the cost of the project, but that they expected it to be significantly more expensive than any of the Port’s four preferred options.
The SR 528 alignment generally falls within Florida Department of Transportation’s existing right-of-way and would follow the path illustrated in the attached maps.
Generally, the route would travel from the Port’s North Cargo Area to the FEC mainline near the intersection of SR 528 and US 1.
The alignment follows SR 401 as it curves south around the western portion of the West Turning Basin and across the channel at the eastern end of the Canaveral Locks to the intersection of SR 401 and SR 528.
It then follows SR 528 west across the Banana River, Banana River Road, Sykes Creek, Route 3 and the Indian River. Once across the Indian River crossing, the alignment would follow SR 528 until merging with the FEC mainline.
The route would require three water crossings, each of which is proposed to be a bascule (draw) bridge.
CPA did identify environmental impacts that could be caused by this alignment by having its contractor, Environmental Services, review previously published environmental information. That is a standard practice for Environmental Impact Statements like the one being compiled by the STB where little if any new scientific research is generated.
The contractor determined that an alignment running along SR 528 would involve several environmental and physical effects that could affect any proposed alignment of the new rail connection including protected species, wetlands and sea grasses.
What all of this means remains to be seen, but at face value it could be a good thing.
It would certainly minimize impacts on public access to the water in the Northern Banana River Lagoon. It would also minimize affects to existing neighborhoods and mean that the earlier proposed causeways would not cut through submerged wetlands and critical upland habitats.
So what will be the outcome?
We're not really sure, except that its too soon to say.
But stay tuned and be sure to let your voice be heard.