During the New River closure, kayaks can traverse the waterway, according to Ali Soule, public affairs manager of All Aboard Florida. Clearance is reported to be about 4 feet of height under the railway bridge downtown Ft. Lauderdale.
“Safety is our first priority, and as with any construction site, we ask people to proceed with care and pay attention to safety signs and his or her surroundings,” Soule said.
By Dorie Cox
The New River railroad bridge will close as scheduled Feb. 11-23, according to a federal judge ruling this morning.
The bridge closure is a maintenance project of the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) railroad bridge and will prohibit marine traffic.
U.S. District Judge William P. Dimitrouleas denied a request Friday morning for a temporary halt to the bridge closure filed by about 24 marine businesses. (Read more about that lawsuit here.)
The river is scheduled to close to navigation from 12:01 a.m., Saturday, Feb. 11, through 12:01 a.m., Thursday, Feb. 23.
Nearly 100 shipyard owners, towing and repair company representatives and other marine professionals packed the courtroom to hear presentations from the attorneys for the plaintiffs, the FEC, All Aboard Florida and U.S. Coast Guard.
Capt. Bernard Calot of Universal Marine Center, located west of the bridge in Ft. Lauderdale, was disappointed in the ruling.
“I just got a call that a 163-foot yacht will move to Bahia Mar,” a marina on the Intracoastal Waterway, Calot said. “We had a 140-foot Feadship cancel their planned maintenance for five weeks, and a 121-foot and a 108-foot yacht that canceled.
“This affects a lot of money for us, but also for the contractors and employees,” he said. “We’re looking at an $80,000 base loss.”
But the effects of boats not being able to access the yard is broad, he said.
“It’s more than the 12 days because many of these yachts have charters and can’t risk being caught on this side of the bridge,” Calot said. “And if they have a boat for sale, they don’t want to risk not be able to get out for sea trials and they are moving out just in case.”
“We believe that Judge Dimitrouleas correctly ruled based on the facts and law applicable to this matter,” All Aboard Florida Public Affairs Manager Ali Soule said. “We are committed to rehabilitating the bridge in the safest and most expedient method. Work on the bridge has already begun, and crews will be working 24 hours per day when the 12-day closure starts to minimize the time frame.”
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton.