I have an update on the ongoing efforts to ensure Brightline’s expansion to Orlando does not disrupt our way of life here on the Treasure Coast.
As you may recall, in June, the U.S. Coast Guard issued a test deviation, or schedule, for the operations of the St. Lucie River bridge. It was a fixed schedule that gave equal time to boaters and trains. As soon as the deviation was announced, Brightline claimed it would result in major blockages at road crossings throughout our community, leading to lengthy delays for drivers. Brightline’s threat was clear: either boaters can’t access the waterway or drivers will be stuck on the road.
That was unacceptable. Since that test deviation was announced, I’ve been in near constant conversations with the Coast Guard, Brightline, and Florida East Coast Rail (FEC) in order to make sure the next test deviation respects the needs of residents.
Thankfully, the Coast Guard released the second deviation today and it’s a step in the right direction. Here are some of the key points:
- The deviation specifies, in writing, that the goal is to ensure mariners have access to the waterway for, at minimum, 50 percent of the time between the hours of 6 A.M. and 10 P.M.
- The bridge is guaranteed to be open for 10 minutes at the start of every hour.
- There’s additional time built into the schedule for mariners on weekends and during weekday rush hour.
You can read it for yourself here.
The new deviation is going to be implemented on August 15th, and that’s when the public comment period will begin. I encourage everyone to make their voices heard. Whether you see a problem with the operation or if you think it’s working well, the public comment period is our community’s chance to share our opinions.
Based on my conversations with the Coast Guard, I expect that there will be at least one more test deviation before the Coast Guard settles on a final schedule, but again, this is a step in the right direction. I’ll continue to update you at every stop on the line.