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St. Lucie Railroad Drawbridge Work Completed Ahead of Schedule; Re-Openings for Marine Traffic Resume

Treasure Coast - Monday May 22, 2023: Brightline completed the "critical elements" on the rehabilitation of the 100-year-old St. Lucie River railroad bridge in Stuart on Sunday at 6 p.m., 12-hours ahead of schedule.

Overnight closures will continue through Monday May 29 between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Brightline worked around the clock for 21 days to do the work that included the replacement of the mechanical, electrical and control components. The remaining construction of the bridge monitor house will continue through June and will not impact the navigation channel.

The rehabilitation should make the scheduled closing and openings of the bridge more dependable, and reduce the risk of extended unplanned closures.

Brightline is also implementing several mitigation measures prior to beginning train service to Orlando, including a real-time bridge opening and closure app, countdown clock and a bridge monitor, which will allow mariners to know when the bridge’s openings and closures are set to occur.

The app will be available for download closer to Brightline beginning service to Orlando this summer.

The rehabilitation of the bridge is one of the final structural pieces of Brightline’s Orlando expansion project.

The United States Coast Guard approved Brightline’s request for a 21-day modification to drawbridge operations so the company could complete the scheduled rehabilitation work. Brightline also worked closely with the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast, Martin County, City of Stuart and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to carry out the rehabilitation work.

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Building a New Drawbridge

The future replacement of the St. Lucie River railroad bridge remains a topic of discussion between Brightline, elected officials from Martin County and the City of Stuart, along with representatives from the marine industry, including the Marine Industries Association for the Treasure Coast, Florida Inland Navigation District, and the local business chambers. Brightline is encouraging investments and partnerships to replace the bridge.

“A new bridge represents the best long-term solution for everyone and the time to solve that is now, as the federal focus remains on infrastructure," said Ben Porritt, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs. "We can accomplish this together, but it requires leadership and the community to work with us to move this forward.”

Approaching a century in service, the current rehabilitated St. Lucie River railroad bridge is the only remaining single-track segment on the Miami to Cocoa freight corridor of the Florida East Coast Railway (FECR).

A preliminary study, funded by Brightline, proposes a new bridge that would feature:

• Increased capacity with a double track
• Increased vertical clearance from 6’6” to 16’
• Widen horizontal clearance from 50’ to 90’ - allowing two-way mariner traffic

Increased channel clearance will allow more than 90% of vessel traffic to pass without a bridge opening, improving navigation without use of the drawbridge. The reduced openings and increased capacity of double tracking will benefit mariners and motorists alike and enable more fluid movement of freight and passenger rail, which will reduce congested roadway systems and benefit Florida’s economy.

Brightline will continue to communicate information on the St. Lucie River bridge project to the public through a variety of channels including the Brightline St. Lucie River bridge webpage and via Brightline’s text alert message system.

To sign up for Brightline text alerts, text “STL” to 888-384-0037.