Brightline wraps St. Lucie bridge work, begins ticket sales to Orlando

May 30, 2023
An opening date has not been announced, but tickets for late summer through early 2024 are being sold.

Brightline’s planned passenger rail service to Orlando appears to be getting closer to an official opening date, as the railroad completed work on a key infrastructure piece needed for the service and has started selling tickets to Orlando for Sept. 1 through early 2024.

An official opening date will be determined following final testing of the service.

“Brightline guests and the travel market have spoken loudly, and we want to respond by opening ticket sales from late summer through the beginning of next year,” said Patrick Goddard, president of Brightline. “While we are finalizing an official launch date, guests can now book travel for Labor Day, Halloween and holidays through the new year.”

In mid-April, Brightline unveiled its Orlando Station at Orlando International Airport. The station is adjacent to Terminal C at the airport. Once service begins, Brightline plans 16 daily round trips between Miami and Orlando.

One-way fares will range from $79 for adults to $149 for premium tickets; kids one-way fares will begin at $39.

St. Lucie Bridge rehab

A final piece of the infrastructure puzzle Brightline needed to serve Orlando was the rehabilitation of the 100-year-old St. Lucie River railroad bridge in Stuart, Fla. The railroad and its contractor, Scott Bridge Company Inc., replaced the mechanical components, electrical and control components of the bridge, as well as the machining of the drawbridge’s four trunnions.

The bridge work began with overnight closure of the bridge starting in mid-April before a full bridge closure between May 1 and May 21. Further overnight closures through the end of May were cancelled with work being completed and the bridge returning to service on May 21, 12 hours earlier than scheduled.

The bridge is not only important to Brightline, but to marine traffic. The railroad worked with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, 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.

“Brightline thanks the marine community for their patience as we completed these improvements that will offer significant benefits and reliability until a replacement bridge can be built. We would also like to thank our contractor, Scott Bridge Company Inc., and the coordination with Florida East Coast Railway for their help in completing this critical work,” said Ben Porritt, senior vice president of corporate affairs at Brightline “As we move forward, 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. We can accomplish this together, but it requires leadership and the community to work with us to advance this work.”

The current St. Lucie Railroad Bridge is the only single-track segment on the Miami to Cocoa rail corridor of the Florida East Coast Railway. A Brightline-funded preliminary study on replacing the current bridge determined a new structure would increase train capacity, increase vertical clearance from to 16 feet, which would allow 90 percent of vessel traffic to pass without the bridge opening, and widen horizontal clearance to 90 feet, which would allow two-way marine traffic.

Brightline says 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.

About the Author

Mischa Wanek-Libman | Editor in Chief

Mischa Wanek-Libman serves as editor in chief of Mass Transit magazine. She is responsible for developing and maintaining the magazine’s editorial direction and is based in the western suburbs of Chicago.

Wanek-Libman has spent more than 20 years covering transportation issues including construction projects and engineering challenges for various commuter railroads and transit agencies. She has been recognized for editorial excellence through her individual work, as well as for collaborative content. 

She is an active member of the American Public Transportation Association's Marketing and Communications Committee and serves as a Board Observer on the National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC) Board of Directors.  

She is a graduate of Drake University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Mass Communication with a major in magazine journalism and a minor in business management.