You have 2 views remaining. Click here to learn about the Unlimited Membership!

Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Brightline, Florida seek funds for grade-crossing safety projects

Brightline, Florida seek funds for grade-crossing safety projects

By | May 2, 2022

Federal grant would be part of $45 million effort

Email Newsletter

Get the newest photos, videos, stories and more.

Yellow and white passenger train crosses street
Yellow and white passenger train crosses street
A Brightline train heads north through a residential area of West Palm Beach, Fla., on Feb. 5, 2020. The company is joining with the Florida Department of Transportation to seek federal funding for a grade-crossing improvement plan. (Bob Johnston)

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Brightline and the Florida Department of Transportation will seek a $25 million federal grant to help fund a $45 million project to address ongoing grade-crossing accidents along the passenger operator’s route in South Florida.

The Palm Beach Post reports in a paywalled article that the project would make improvements at 328 grade crossings in a seven-county area, and would include:

— Delineators: collapsible or flexible poles on either side of crossings to prevent drivers from steering around lowered crossing gates. These markers led to a significant decrease in accidents when installed on the Long Island Railroad, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

— Rail Dynamic Envelopes: Pavement markings — large painted Xs — which mark a danger area too close to the tracks.

— Fencing. Some 33 miles of fencing would be installed to prevent trespassers from walking onto or along the right-of-way.

There have been nearly 60 fatalities involving Brightline trains since the service began in 2018; the Associated Press has reported the operation has the worst fatality rate per mile of any rail system. Florida’s rail trespassing fatality rate is third nationally, second when measured by casualties per track-mile.

The grant funding will be awarded in August.

17 thoughts on “Brightline, Florida seek funds for grade-crossing safety projects

  1. Would it be correct to state that all 60 of these fatalities were the fault of the victims?

  2. Folks would be amazed what on duty T&E crews see and deal with everyday on the ROW. Can’t fix stupid.

    1. In other countries they are called bollards. Usually used by SunPass when they want to separate toll lanes from the free ones on a common concrete pour.

      If you place a line of these down the centerline of the road at a crossing people won’t be inclined to steer around because they will be blocked.

  3. When the FEC tracks were upgraded for Brightline service fencing should have been installed. It is a continuous densely packed urban area from West Palm Beach to Miami so running trains at 70 mph at grade without barriers to prevent trespass was foolish. If you look at the Youtube videos of many grade crossings while delineators will help these crossings need four quadrant gates to stop impatient drivers going the wrong way to beat the traffic. The number of accidents need to be reduced not only to minimize the potential liability and have better reliability.

    1. @David-

      The tone of your post seems to be that Brightline should be responsible for preventing other people’s stupidity. Is that what I’m hearing? If so, then allow me to respectfully but actively disagree. Actions have consequences, some of which can be fatal. I don’t know where one would get the idea that it’s OK for “impatient drivers going the wrong way to beat the traffic”, or that trespassing on the ROW should not only be tolerated but expected.

      There is such a thing as terminal stupidity, and those that suffer from it will eventually succumb to it. My hope is that the collateral damage (e.g. to T&E crews) will be minimized in these folks’ missionary zeal to be the next Darwin award recipient.

  4. Why not place cameras at problematic crossings to record trespassers and faulty auto operators? This fools place others at risk yet no accountability that I can see. Are all Brightline locos equipped with outward facing dash cams? Finally, does this Floridian behavior have predictability to other transit innovations across the country. Blessings

    1. All Brightline locomotives are camera equipped. Many (but not all) crossings are camera equipped.

      The FEC line Brightline uses from Miami Central as far as Jupiter is completely surrounded by urban and semi-urban housing. As part of the upgrade several low density street crossings were closed.

      In trying to be a good neighbor and increase safety FEC moved a lot of its freights to nights and created a horn free zone to support that. During the day, few freights were seen (or heard) and residents got comfortable trespassing either crossing outright, or using the ROW as a walking trail.

      Even with signage, TV and billboard advertising and community meetings by Brightline to promote safety, people persist in crossing illegally. One lady even tried to drive over the tracks in her car (and got stuck) because she was convinced someone was “after her”. Fortunately she escaped with her daughter before the car was hit.

      Fences were inevitable. (perhaps the City of Del Mar should take note?)

  5. Our posturing Governor will try to steer that grant to something else that has more of a photo op.

    1. It’s an odd arrangement. Brightline sold the bonds to make the upgrades of the rail and buy the equipment, but FEC holds the ROW and is the “landlord”.

      Think of it as Brightline is a tenant in a strip mall, Brightline pays for the interior to built to spec, but the landlord gets to keep it if Brightline vacates. If Brightline doesn’t pay their “rent” (which is based on a per mile rate) then technically the FEC could refuse to dispatch them into the line. (kind of like changing the locks).

      Seeing that they are all part of one big company, it almost becomes funny money, but to keep the books straight they have many parts of it partitioned.

      Brightline’s “lease” is actually made of up many LLC’s based on segments. For example there are 2 segments represented by 2 LLC’s under Brightline that aren’t used. Cocoa-Daytona & Daytona-Jax are those 2 LLC’s and Brightline has rights to use it, but won’t pay FEC anything because as I said , its by mileage. No trains, no rent. Cocoa-Orlando is its own LLC and is unique in that the ROW is not owned by FEC. Its actually rented from OOCEA (Beachline Tollway). However if FEC were to bring freight in on it, they have to pay a per mile fee to Brightline to use, since it isn’t theirs.

      And FEC does plan to bring in freight from Port Canaveral at night when Brightline is not running.

      Back to fences, if the fences are required to support something Brightline needs to operate, they have to request it. In some locations, Brightline has already paid for and installed fencing. Also there were many municipalities that are demanding fencing themselves but don’t have the money to do so, so typically they go to their state government/Federal government to get the money.

      1. John – First I heard of freight from Port Canaveral to Orlando (airport?) on the new line. What freight? In which direction?

        1. Brightline has a connector with the CSX Stanton Spur just east of Innovation Way. This spur mostly brings in coal for the Orlando Utilities Commission (UOC) Austin Power Plant, but it also connects to several warehouses and the Airport Industrial Park and eventually meets up with the Central Florida Railway Corridor (FDOT) of which CSX has rights over.

      2. Actually Brightline and the FEC are now owned by separate companies. The FEC is owned by a Mexican firm and Brightline is still financed by Fortress Investments.

  6. I’ve heard two concerns over fencing in the area. One is that it’s more effective at blocking wildlife than people (yes, even in an urban environment). The other is that it’s a major eyesore, which Del Mar definitely believes. Some time ago Brightline mentioned they were trying to use more natural barriers like trees and brush where possible, mitigating the eyesore factor and making it easier for critters (and harder for people) to get through. Obviously not feasible everywhere, but I wonder how successful that program actually is.

  7. I don’t believe people deserve death for being stupid. If you think the opposite, try to remember when you were a teenager. There is a reason freeways and high speed lines around the world are grade separated and fenced off. I hope to ride Bright Line someday and am very intrigued by it, but the fatality rate is a huge black eye which we wouldn’t accept elsewhere in our society.

You must login to submit a comment