ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Fla. – Brightline VP spoke to Martin County Commissioners to support construction of a double-tracked railroad bridge that crosses over the St. Lucie River in Florida.
WPTV has reported on a new St. Lucie River railroad bridge that could open in 2028. The current bridge that runs over the St. Lucie River is one hundred years old, single-track, and runs adjacent to Northwest Dixie Highway, connecting northern and southern Stuart, Florida. For Brightline, it “is a crucial sector of its ongoing expansion from West Palm Beach to Orlando.”
Brightline Vice President, Ali Soule, commented that the new bridge is overdue, that “now is the time to act and move forward on a bridge that frankly the community has been talking about for so long.”
Earlier, Soule spoke to Martin County Commissioners to “pass a resolution supporting the construction of a new double-tracked railroad bridge over the St. Lucie River, a task that won’t happen overnight, or come cheap.” While the upgrade to the double-track would “bolster freight operations,” Soule said that the total cost for a new railroad bridge would equal roughly $218 million, and the project would consist of a four-year timeline. Soule mentioned that Brightline is “seeking a federal mega grant for about $130 million,” but that the rest of the funds would come from the state and private investments. The TCPalm reports that the commissioners “unanimously approved” the resolution. Brightline also applied through Florida’s Department of Transportation’s Strategic Intermodal Systems program for a grant.
Ed Ciampi, County Commission Chair, underscored his support by stressing safety. He commented “that span needs to be replaced, and I believe it needs to be replaced now. . . We need to replace the bridge before it caves in on itself and someone gets hurt.”
The Marine Industry of the Treasure Coast has fought “for sufficient access to the waterways, once Brightline begins up to 32 trips daily through the Treasure Coast.” Soule mentioned that service would start around the middle of September. President of the Marine Industry of the Treasure Coast, Tom Whittington, commented that it “has a lot vested in this,” and that “the realities of navigating this challenging and important passageway are that, really, we’re the end users and the subject-matter experts. . . We want to be part of the design phase, the construction phase, and the operations afterward.”
Currently, the bridge allows for around 22% of marine traffic to pass through while the bridge is down, and “the proposed bridge would accommodate 92% of marine traffic when closed, with 16-foot vertical and 90-foot horizontal clearances.”
Earlier this year, Brightline completed maintenance of the electrical and mechanical components, and replaced the control before the start of hurricane season on June 1st.
Additionally, Brightline recently released an app and website that “gives mariners real time data on the bridges’ status, called bridgeschedule.com.”