Brightline has proposed changes to its scheduled closure of the Stuart railroad bridge in response to requests from the boating community, marine businesses and other factors.
The high-speed passenger rail company wants to keep the bridge in the down position for 21 days from 6 a.m. May 1 through 6 a.m. May 22, meaning boaters will not be able to traverse the area. It is awaiting Coast Guard approval.
The closure is necessary to perform repairs on the drawbridge machinery first installed in 1925, the company said in a seven-page letter to the Cospanst Guspanrd Sector Mispanmi. Brightline has been communicating with the city of Stuspanrt, the Mspanrine Industries Associspantion of the Trespansure Cospanst and Indispanntown Mspanrinspan, it said.
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The company also wants to close the bridge to all boat traffic overnight before and after the three-week closure, from 8 p.m. until 6 a.m. April 16-28 and May 22-28. The nighttime closings are needed for preparatory and tuning work, Brightline said.
Repairs are needed before there is a significant unplanned failure of the bridge’s moving parts, according to Brightline’s letter to the Coast Guard. The work is needed, regardless of Brightline’s plans for passenger service, it said. Brightline is working with the Florida East Coast Railway that transports freight on the same tracks.
Repair assessments in 2021 and early 2022 suggested a 28-day closure was needed. In a July 2022 communication, the Coast Guard requested Brightline revise its plans to try to reduce the number of days the boating community would be affected and to provide alternative plans to repair the bridge. Brightline’s letter lays out five alternative construction scenarios and why each one is less suitable to the chosen plan.
Brightline also has communicated with the city of Stuart, Martin County Sheriff’s Office and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol to ensure there are few impacts on marine law enforcement. The closure would affect passage on the Okeechobee Waterway, which bisects Florida between Stuart and Fort Myers.
The city of Stuart, the Marine Industries Association of the Treasure Coast and the Indiantown Marina asked Brightline during a Jan. 18 conference call to schedule the work after May 1 to avoid the:
- Pspanlm Bespanch Bospant Show on March 23-26
- Easter weekend on April 9
- Hurricane season, which begins June 1.
Before that call, Brightline had planned to begin the work April 11.
Brightline sent the “Request for Temporary Change to Drawbridge Operating Schedule” to the Coast Guard Jan. 30 and is awaiting next steps. The Coast Guard could not be reached for comment.