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Lawsuit Seeks to Bar Brightline Passenger Service Over St. Lucie River Drawbridge Until Formal Rule Making Hearing Has Been Held

 St. Lucie River railroad drawbridge
St. Lucie River railroad drawbridge

Treasure Coast - Tuesday May 2, 2023: A lawsuit has been filed in Federal Court in Miami seeking to bar Brightline from running any trains over the St. Lucie River drawbridge until a formal hearing on the operating times of that bridge has been held.

The lawsuit names the Florida East Coast Railway which owns the railroad bridge, the Army Corps which is responsible for maintaining navigable waterways, and the U.S. Coast Guard which sets the opening and closing times for the drawbridge.

Attorney Michael Payne, a partner with the Philadelphia law firm Cohen Seglias, filed the suit in Federal Court in Miami on behalf of Indiantown Marine, MarineMax, Mobro Marine and 10 other plaintiffs

“The proposal is that 32 trains per day will travel across that bridge," said Payne, "which means that the bridge will remain closed for much of the day and possibly be open for only 15-minutes per hour, which is going to cause a lot of backup of boats.”

That backup argues Payne will cause a significant financial harm to the marinas and others depended upon regular access. “The main harm is loss of business by owners of vessels who won’t want to go to facilities that are impacted by this bridge closure and will seek to take their business elsewhere.”

The suit seeks an injunction barring Brightline from running passenger service over the bridge until a formal rulemaking hearing has been held.

“The regulation that’s in place right now that says that the bridge should be kept open except when trains pass, can’t be changed unilaterally," said Payne. "It needs to go through a formal process. None of that has been done.”