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Brightline constructing another railroad bridge in South Vero Beach

STORY BY GEORGE ANDREASSI (Week of December 3, 2020)

Brightline has announced plans to start construction of another railroad bridge in South Vero in mid-December as part of its expansion north from West Palm Beach through Indian River County to Orlando.

In Vero, the train company plans to mobilize a construction crane in two weeks to start work on the expansion of the 125-foot-long South Canal Railroad Bridge, Brightline disclosed in its weekly construction advisory.

A concrete bridge will be built next to the steel railroad bridge that spans the South Relief Canal, which runs under the tracks a block north of 1st Street. Contractors last week completed a second railroad bed and drainage facilities nearby at the busy 4th Street railroad crossing.

Pile-driving operations are expected to start on the South Canal Railroad Bridge by the end of December and continue into 2021 for the installation of a temporary work trestle east of the railroad bridge.

Brightline plans to start work on new concrete bridges across the Main Canal and North Canal in Indian River County later in 2021.

Elsewhere in Indian River County, Brightline is spending $33 million to replace the 94-year-old St. Sebastian River Railroad Bridge linking northern Indian River County to southern Brevard County.

Pile-driving operations started in July and are expected to continue on the 1,625-foot-long bridge through 2022.

Behind the scenes, Vero Beach recently invited Brightline officials to make a presentation to the City Council summarizing the work planned in 2021 on the railroad tracks bisecting the city, including safety upgrades.

Public Works Director Matt Mitts asked Brightline and FECR officials for a meeting to discuss who will pay to maintain and repair the railroad crossing improvements needed to handle high-speed passenger trains.

There are seven railroad crossings in the city, but the Florida Department of Transportation is responsible for the 20th Street West and 19th Place East railroad crossings that are part of State Road 60.

Mitts also asked Brightline officials to meet to discuss the possibility of establishing a passenger train stop in Vero Beach.

So far, Brightline officials have not responded to his Oct. 22 letter requesting the meetings, Mitts said.

“Our latest information is that crossing improvements will ramp up sometime during 2021, but a specific date has not been set,” Mitts told Vero Beach 32963. “We have not been given an official timeline by Brightline.”

Brightline expects to be running as many as 34 passenger trains per day through Indian River County at speeds of up to 110 mph by late 2022, records show.