New St. Lucie River railroad bridge could cost $218 million, take over 4 years
While it is not clear when Brightline will finally begin its higher-speed rail service from South Florida to Orlando, WFLX now has a better idea how much, and when, a noted chokepoint along the railroad could be alleviated.
In recent years, the 100-year-old railroad bridge over the St. Lucie River has been mired in controversy over how it operates when it comes to providing boater access.
“Now is the time to act and move forward on a bridge that frankly the community has been talking about for so long,” Ali Soule, Brightline VP, said.
Tuesday, Soule spoke before Martin County Commissioners asking them 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.
“A 48-month timeline for design, permitting and construction. The demolition of the existing bridge would take three months after that,” Soule said. "The total project cost is about $218 million.”
Commissioners had questions whether county taxpayers would bear some burden.
Soule told them the company is seeking a federal mega grant for about $130 million, but the rest of the funding could be a mix of state and private investment.
The Marine Industry of the Treasure Coast has been fighting for sufficient access to the waterways, once Brightline begins up to 32 trips daily through the Treasure Coast.
Soule said service will start no earlier than mid-September at this point.
President Tom Whittington was pleased to see the county pass the new bridge resolution, and added their participation in the mix.
“We’ve got a lot vested in this," Whittington said. "We have a lot of knowledgeable folks, so having a seat near the head of the table is important."
Brightline has developed a new website and app that just went online last week that now gives mariners real time data on the bridges' status, called bridgeschedule.com.
That’s at least a step forward for Dan Romence, whose clients out at the Indiantown Marine Center rely on knowing what’s to come as they head east.
“Businesses on the west side of bridge are going to depend on that bridge having the right regulation, and being the right bridge,” Romence said.
If the grant is awarded early next year, the new railroad bridge could be completed in 2028.
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