Coast Guard Approves Brightline’s Request to Modernize St. Lucie River Bridge

Written by Kyra Senese, Managing Editor
image description

The U.S. Coast Guard has given Brightline approval to temporarily close the navigation channel at the Stuart railroad drawbridge over the St. Lucie River in order to carry out restoration work.

The rehabilitation work will begin with evening closures in April and include a 21-day navigation channel closure starting May 1. Officials expect the planned work to improve the bridge’s operating reliability. 

During the 21-day closure, Brightline crews are set to work 24/7 to complete the project. Brightline officials have stated that the railroad bridge rehabilitation work is one of the final stages of its Orlando expansion project, according to a release from the City of Stuart

Replacement of the mechanical, electrical, and control components as well as the machining of the four installed trunnions are all included in the bridge’s rehabilitation.

Before starting train service to Orlando, Brightline will put in place a number of mitigating strategies, including a real-time bridge opening and closure app, a countdown clock at the bridge, and a bridge monitor. The bridge monitor house is also being built, and will not affect the navigation channel, a release said.

“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 that 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 Florida East Coast Railway, the U.S. Coast Guard, the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast, federal and state authorities, as well as regional counties, towns, and law enforcement agencies, are all involved in the coordination of Brightline’s bridge work.

After input from the U.S. Coast Guard, the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast, and regional law enforcement organizations, Brightline developed the current schedule for the project. The bridge rehabilitation project, led by contractor Scott Bridge Company, is expected to be complete by summer of 2023.

Brightline will communicate with the public through a variety of channels including fixed and variable message signs along the channel, as well as updates through Twitter and the Brightline website.