Brightline cleared to rehab St. Lucie River Bridge

Feb. 22, 2023
With clearance from the U.S. Coast Guard, the rail company can modernize one of the final pieces of infrastructure needed for its expansion to Orlando.

The U.S. Coast Guard has approved Brightline’s request to temporarily close a portion of the St. Lucie River navigation channel in Stuart, Fla., to allow for work to proceed to rehabilitate the bascule St. Lucie River Rail Bridge. The bridge is one of the final pieces of infrastructure needed for Brightline to expand its services north to Orlando.

“The St. Lucie River bridge represents one of the final construction projects along our Orlando extension,” said Michael Cegelis, executive vice president, rail infrastructure and development for Brightline. “This work is necessary to assure the bascule span can open reliably for marine traffic and close for freight and high-speed passenger rail. The new mechanical and electrical systems will greatly reduce the risk of unplanned closures that would impact all three user groups.”

The rehabilitation will begin with nighttime closures in April and include a subsequent 21-day navigation channel closure, with the drawbridge in the down position starting May 1 to improve the bridge’s operating reliability. During the 21-day closure, Brightline crews will work around the clock, 24/7, to complete the work. The bridge rehabilitation project, led by contractor Scott Bridge Company, is expected to be complete by summer of 2023.

Work scheduled to be completed includes replacing the bridge’s mechanical, electrical and control components and machining of the four axles used to rotate the drawbridge (called trunnions) in place.

Once the work is complete, boaters will see several benefits, including dependability of bridge openings and closings, reducing the risk of 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 at the bridge and a bridge monitor. Construction of the bridge monitor house is also currently underway and will not impact the navigation channel.

Brightline’s bridge work is being coordinated with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast, federal and state agencies andthe Florida East Coast Railway, as well as local counties and municipalities and law enforcement organizations. Brightline’s current schedule for the work came about after receiving feedback from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast and local law enforcement agencies. Notice of the work will be included in the USCG Local Notice to Mariners.

Brightline’s $2.7 billion extension to Orlando will add 170 miles to its existing network and will allow for travelers to move between Orlando and West Palm Beach in two hours. 

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