New rail drawbridge to be built as part of Brightline’s $2.7 billion expansion: CEG
Work on the railroad tracks across the Loxahatchee River will require the railroad bridge to remain closed for extended periods between April 10 and May 31, preventing boats from moving freely between the river and Jupiter Inlet and Intracoastal Waterway. (Photo by Lannis Waters/The Palm Beach Post)
A modern railroad drawbridge is set to be erected soon across the Loxahatchee River in Jupiter, Florida, for Brightline, the company currently building a high-speed rail line between Miami and Orlando International Airport.
Construction of the drawbridge is scheduled to begin April 10, and when work to place its components is complete in late May, a key part of Brightline’s $2.7 billion expansion in Orlando will be complete, the city said. company in an April 5 press release.
The new structure will replace the current drawbridge, built in 1926, and improve the reliability and efficiency of the crossing, which carries trains across a popular shipping channel in Palm Beach County.
An important Brightline crossing point
As one of two movable bridge structures in Brightline’s Orlando expansion project, the Jupiter Drawbridge is a key connection between South Florida and Central Florida.
Due to the type of construction work and safety precautions required, the installation of the new drawbridge will require a temporary closure of the river channel, located just west of the Atlantic Ocean, and will prevent boats from move freely between the river and Jupiter Inlet and Intracoastal. Waterway over a period of seven weeks in April and May.
In addition, Brightline is also rehabilitating the entire 583-foot-long Loxahatchee River Bridge with the complete replacement of its electrical system and operating machinery, as well as the installation of a second track.
Once the bridge is complete, boaters will see the benefits it is designed to provide, Brightline noted in its release, including improved reliability of bridge openings and closings and additional clearance for small watercraft. For example, at its southern end, the bridge will receive a new small craft navigation span that will increase its vertical clearance by 14 feet and allow more vessels to pass without having to open the drawbridge.
“The Loxahatchee River Bridge represents one of the most complex construction projects along our Orlando extension,” said Michael Cegelis, executive vice president of rail infrastructure and development for Brightline. “Extensive work was required on the nearly 100-year-old structure to make it ready for high-speed rail travel. This new structure is another important example of the significant investment Brightline is making to improve the transportation infrastructure of Florida.”
Scott Bridge Company, headquartered in Opelika, Alabama, was selected as the contractor for the drawbridge replacement project.
Brightline’s expansion of high-speed trains between Miami and Orlando will be complete by the end of 2022, the company told the Palm Beach Post, and passenger rail service is expected to begin in early 2023.
Floating bridge components on site
Construction of the new Loxahatchee River drawbridge will require multiple barges and cranes in the navigation channel, Brightline said in its statement. Plans call for the pieces of the structure to be loaded onto barges and rolled into place, blocking the waterway from boat traffic.
At the start and end of the 52-day project, no boat traffic will be allowed to pass and freight traffic will be briefly suspended. During the six-week work period between jobs, the temporary rail bridge span will be raised twice a day to accommodate the busy waterway and allow boats to pass.
Brightline’s bridge work is being coordinated with the United States Coast Guard (USCG), Jupiter Inlet District, Florida East Coast Railway and local municipalities. The Clearance Improvement Project is also being done in conjunction with the District of Jupiter Inlet.