News & Reviews News Wire News photos: Brightline introduces temporary Loxahatchee River bridge

News photos: Brightline introduces temporary Loxahatchee River bridge

By Mark Elias and Bob Johnston | April 15, 2022

Process introduced April 10 will be repeated daily

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Construction equipment at bridge on river
1: At 10:08 a.m., the old span (far left), new span (blue, upper center) and old bridge’s counterweights, as they appeared before a temporary bridge is floated into position. (Mark Elias)

JUPITER, Fla. — Replacing a 96-year-old, bascule drawbridge while keeping both rail and river traffic moving requires round-the-clock activity and lots of compromise.

Construction workers with section of bridge on platform
2: At 10:26 a.m., riggers prepare the removable span. (Mark Elias)

This was obvious Sunday, April 10, with the latest step in the project to replace a Florida East Coast Railway bridge over the Loxahatchee River at Jupiter, improving both operational reliability and clearance for the many pleasure craft that use the river. A removable span has been installed to host FEC freight traffic and Brightline qualifying runs over the north-south main line expected to bring Brightline in early 2023.

Through May 21, the temporary single-track bridge will be removed for an hour twice daily — between 9 and 10 a.m., and again from 4:15 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. — to allow boat traffic to pass.

Section of bridge suspended by cranes
3: At 11:49 a.m., heavy-lift cranes position the bridge section. (Mark Elias)

The permanent replacement, a double-track movable span, is being built on a platform on the north bank of the river; it will be moved in position May 22-25, blocking all river traffic. That will be followed by overnight closures through May 31. The plan is a product of coordination efforts involving the U.S. Coast Guard, Jupiter Inlet District, contractor Scott Bridge, and the railroads.

All work on this key component of Brightline’s $2.7 billion expansion to Orlando is expected to be finished by the end of 2022. The old drawbridge had its second track removed when the FEC single-tracked the line more than 50 years ago; the new double-track bridge is being constructed with an additional 14 inches of clearance so it won’t have to open as often for river traffic.

This five-photo sequence show how the process worked the first day.

Construction workers on railroad bridge
4: At 12:12 p.m., bridge workers pry the temporary span into place for the first time. (Mark Elias)
Construction workers on bridge in river.
5: At 12:24 p.m., the fitting process is nearly complete. (Mark Elias)

9 thoughts on “News photos: Brightline introduces temporary Loxahatchee River bridge

  1. I spent a month on vacation in Jupiter area in January and walked over adjacent highway bridge which is a fixed bridge.i would estimate that clearance for boats on hwy bridge is only about 10 feet more than closed railroad bridge.i thought the railroad ,new fixed bridge,could be raised to same boat clearance as the hwy bridge, and also build a new bridge over grade crossing just north of bridge as track rises out of river area.

  2. I suppose that the 2 cranes will need to stay there to make the quick removal of the bridge 2 times a day?

    1. They will be needed when they install the new span in a month anyway, right?

  3. When people cooperate, everyone wins. Nice to see. This project is raising hope for the future of passenger trains.

  4. This was a source of major contention in the Jupiter area for boaters and Brightline alike. But instead of going to court and trying to sue the heck out of everything, the USCG got everyone together and using modeling of boat transit data that was collected, FEC was able to come up with a better way to deal with the bridge.

    I call this a win for common sense problem resolution and a great example of divergent interests coming together. I certainly wish most of these types of projects were resolved in a similar fashion.

    Will some boats have to wait? Yes. A majority of them, no. Will FEC lift the bridge asap? Yes.

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