WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-21) received notice from the U.S. Coast Guard that it has approved Brightline’s plan to close off access to the St. Lucie River for 21 days.

Less than a month ago, Rep. Mast sent a letter to Rear Admiral Brendan C. McPherson, Commander of the U.S. Coast Guard Seventh District. In it, he requested a full and formal analysis of the economic impact of the proposed plan and that steps be taken to insulate businesses and boaters from said impacts.

In their response, the Coast Guard claimed that it “conducted extensive outreach to our local, state, and federal maritime partners…[and] engaged with local maritime interests.” It claimed that the maritime community expressed preference for the 21-day closure as opposed to potential unplanned closures.

“It never stops. This is going to be a major disruption to hundreds of boaters who rely on access to the Intracoastal, not to mention have a huge impact for businesses on both sides of the bridge,” Rep. Mast said. “I find it hard to believe that this was the best that Brightline could do; instead, it’s just forced our community to pick the lesser of two evils.”

Starting on May 1, Brightline will close the drawbridge in order to make repairs and, in doing so, cut off access for the many businesses that rely on access to both sides of the St. Lucie: marinas, repair shops, barge companies, and fueling stations.

The full text of the Coast Guard’s response can be read here.