I‘m on a deadline for my job, so for now just a couple of observations about today’s meeting:
1) Though the meeting was open to the public, whoever picked the room didn’t try to find an audience friendly room. The meeting was held in a small city hall conference room. The Task Force sat around a folding table square, the media took four or five chairs outside the square. The rest of the audience grabbed a few chairs left against the wall and Lakeland city staff rushed at the last moment to get chairs for those on the task force. I counted 23 at the table and 21 outside the square.
2) Rick Hood, assistant VP of real estate sales for CSX, effectively ran the meeting by addressing a list questions formed at the private meeting held in April.
3) “We’re going to be neighbors, one way or another.” Rick Hood.
4) Hood addressed the number of additional trains Lakeland should expect: Four: Two coal trains and two other.
4b) But wait. CSX Jacksonville GM, Bob Frulla, emphasized that the city is going to experience longer trains. Current traffic will be consolidated to create trains approximately 9,000 feet in length. That makes the “additional number of trains” is misleading.
4c) A key question media and citizens should start asking: How many additional feet of train traffic will travel through Lakeland on an average day? I’ll speak on that later tonight.
5) It was an hour into the meeting before a member of the audience finally decided to ask a question. I’m sure Lakeland citizens would welcome a forum where CSX could address questions. I’m also sure that would only help CSX’s image.
6) There is a lot of different opinions concerning the speed of trains through Lakeland’s downtown. At today’s meeting, CSX promised to send data to the task force. Has the city’s traffic department performed a study?
7) There was a lot of discussion of Quiet Zones. The bottom line: Lakeland will have spend a lot of money just to get a position to be considered for a Quiet Zone. Florida currently has only one such zone. There was no discussion today of wayside rail crossing horns.
More later tonight…