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Bridge repair to close New River navigation in February

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By Dorie Cox

A planned repair of the railroad bridge in downtown Ft. Lauderdale will close navigation to the city’s major shipyards for 12 days in February. Several yards are concerned about the length of the closure of the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) railroad bridge.

“I know maintenance has to be done on the bridge, but I didn’t know it was 12 days,” said Bob Roscioli, CEO of Roscioli Yachting Center, one of the businesses to be affected if yachts can’t travel the west side of the bridge. “We can be inconvenienced for a while, but that’s a long time.”

The work is part of All Aboard Florida, a high-speed passenger rail service to run between Miami and Orlando using the Brightline train service. Brightline trains will run on existing tracks between Cocoa and Miami with new rails to be built between Cocoa and Orlando.

Repairs on the decades-old bridge are under way on electrical replacements and include planned mechanical and steel replacements. Milling of outer trunnions on the bridge are what requires the closure, according to Adrian Share, executive vice president of rail infrastructure for Brightline.

“Trunnions are like axles on a car,” Share said. “Wear happens with each lift of the bridge.”

Share said the bridge will be put on alternative supports during the milling, which prevents the bridge from opening and closing to marine traffic. Intermittent rail traffic will continue.

The timing of the repairs is difficult for Roscioli and other boat yards whose customers navigate from the Atlantic Ocean or the Intracoastal Waterway toward the west end of the New River.

Trunnions, which allow the FEC railway bridge to pivot, are scheduled for replacement. The bridge over the New River in downtown Ft. Lauderdale is expected to close marine traffic for 12 days. PHOTO/DORIE COX

“February, March and April are the strong season,” Roscioli said. “Business slows during the holidays, but after, people want to get back to the yard.”

The closure is scheduled to take place during the Miami International Boat Show and Yachts Miami Beach, which run Feb. 16-20.

“We coordinated with MIASF [Marine Industries Association of South Florida] and the U.S. Coast Guard on dates and they have changed with input,” Share said.

“Target dates are Feb. 11-22; there is no good time to do this but the industry needs a bridge in good operating condition,” said Patience Cohn, industry liaison with MIASF. “The closing is pending some details before the U.S. Coast Guard will issue the permit. When they do, it will be in the local Notice to Mariners (NTM).”

When the Coast Guard approves anything impacting navigation, it is released immediately to NTM and will be available at www.navcen.uscg.gov under local NTM for District 7, Cohn said.

Repairs could not be conducted during the slower summer months because, Shane said, the Coast Guard rejected the closure during hurricane season, which runs June 1-Nov. 30.

Several other major marinas and yards will be affected, including Lauderdale Marine Center, Marina Mile Yachting Center, Cable Marine, Rolly Marine and Bradford Marine.

“Ft. Lauderdale is not only the boat capital but the repair capital,” Roscioli said. “The last three years have been our best in 53 years of business. Is it the worst thing that could happen? No. But we will lose money and business, no question about it.”

Susan Engle, president of EnviroCare Solutions International, was on the consulting team that drafted a 2014 report critical of All Aboard Florida’s estimation of the impact to the marine industry. The report was commissioned by a coalition of concerned Ft. Lauderdale area property owners, boaters, and directly affected marine industry businesses, which is concerned about the current repair project.

“The thought of closing the bridge for an extended period of time is significant and unprecedented,” Engle said. “I hope all the parties involved in making the final decision take into consideration all alternatives to keep navigation open.”

The city of Ft. Lauderdale’s Marine Advisory Board unanimously opposed the plan at its monthly meeting on Dec. 1.

Capt. Chad Pelletier of M/Y GlenEllen said he and other yacht captains are making alternative plans to keep their yachts on the east side of the bridge closure.

“My boss said let’s be proactive so we don’t get stuck,” Capt. Pelletier said.

The yacht owner plans to go to the Miami show and the boat is normally docked behind a home on the west side of the bridge.

George Cable, CEO of Cable Marine, said he is concerned about captains such as Pelletier choosing alternative shipyards.

“If you shut down I-95, you have lots of alternatives, but with the boating community there is no alternative,” Cable said. “When you go to your favorite restaurant and it has a 20-minute waiting period, do you wait or go across the street?”

Roscioli said he does not have the answer, but said he can envision difficult scenarios with customers who are in his yard during the closure.

“Say a yacht owner planned a trip for a week in St. Thomas,” Roscioli said. “And I say, ‘You can’t leave the yard.’ Can you imagine?”

 

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at dorie@the-triton.com.

 

UPDATE Dec. 6

A planned repair of the railroad bridge in downtown Ft. Lauderdale will close navigation to the city’s major shipyards for 12 days in February.

Several yards are concerned about the length of the closure.

“I know maintenance has to be done on the bridge, but I didn’t know it was 12 days,” said Bob Roscioli, CEO of Roscioli Yachting Center, one of the businesses to be affected if yachts can’t travel the west side of the bridge. “We can be inconvenienced for a while, but that’s a long time.”

The work is part of All Aboard Florida, a high-speed passenger rail service to run between Miami and Orlando using the Brightline train service. Brightline trains will add to current traffic on the rails that cross the river in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.

Repairs on the decades-old bridge are under way on electrical replacements and include planned mechanical and steel replacements. Milling of outer trunnions on the bridge are what requires the closure, according to Adrian Share, a  representative from Brightline.

“Trunnions are like axles on a car,” Share said. “Wear happens with each lift of the bridge.”

Share said the bridge will be put on alternative supports during the milling, which prevents the bridge from opening and closing to marine traffic.

The timing of the repairs is difficult for Roscioli and other boat yards whose customers navigate from the Atlantic Ocean or the Intracoastal Waterway toward the west end of the New River.

“February, March and April are the strong season,” Roscioli said. “Business slows during the holidays, but after, people want to get back to the yard.”

Several other major marinas and yards will be affected, including Lauderdale Marine Center, Marina Mile Yachting Center, Cable Marine, Rolly Marine and Bradford Marine.

“Ft. Lauderdale is not only the boat capital but the repair capital,” Roscioli said. “The last three years have been our best in 53 years of business. Is it the worst thing that could happen? No, but we will lose money and business, no question about it.”

Susan Engle, president of EnviroCare Solutions International, was on the consulting team that drafted a 2014 report critical of All Aboard Florida’s estimation of the impact to the marine industry. The report was commissioned by a coalition of concerned Ft. Lauderdale area property owners, boaters, and directly affected marine industry businesses, which is concerned about the current repair project.

“The thought of closing the bridge for an extended period of time is significant and unprecedented,” Engle said. “I hope all the parties involved in making the final decision take into consideration all alternatives to keep navigation open.”

The city of Ft. Lauderdale’s Marine Advisory Board unanimously opposed the plan at its monthly meeting on Dec. 1.

Brightline’s Share spoke at the meeting and said they tried to choose the best dates for the repairs. The closure is scheduled to take place during the Miami International Boat Show and Yachts Miami Beach, which run Feb. 16-20.

“We coordinated with MIASF [Marine Industries Association of South Florida] and the U.S. Coast Guard on dates and they have changed with input,” Share said.

Repairs could not be conducted during the slower summer months because, Shane said, the Coast Guard rejected the closure during hurricane season, which runs June 1-Nov. 30.

George Cable, CEO of Cable Marine said he is concerned about boats choosing alternative shipyards.

“If you shut down I-95, you have lots of alternatives, but with the boating community there is no alternative,” Cable said. “When you go to your favorite restaurant and it has a 20-minute waiting period, do you wait or go across the street?”

Roscioli said he does not have the answer, but said he can envision difficult scenarios with customers who are in his yard during the closure.

“Say a yacht owner planned a trip for a week in St. Thomas,” Roscioli said. “And I say, ‘You can’t leave the yard.’ Can you imagine?”

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments on this story are welcome at dorie@the-triton.com.

UPDATE Dec. 2

Last night, the city of Ft. Lauderdale’s Marine Advisory Board unanimously opposed a plan to close the New River to navigation for 12 days between Feb. 11-22.

Members of the board said Brightline’s plan to repair the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) railroad bridge for repairs would cause irreparable harm in the short and long term with severe economic losses and possible employee layoffs. The board suggested a request for financial compensation for affected businesses.

Representatives from Brightline, the high-speed train service of All Aboard Florida, presented their plan and took questions from businesses that could be affected by the closure.

The closure would take place during the Miami International Boat Show and Yachts Miami Beach, which run Feb. 16-20.

The board plans to send a communication to the city commission outlining these concerns.

POSTED Nove. 30

A project to repair the Florida East Coast (FEC) railroad bridge over the New River in downtown Ft. Lauderdale will require the closing of river navigation for 12 days in February.

The contractor/project management team scheduled to repair the bridge at mile 2.5 will make a presentation to members of the city of Ft. Lauderdale’s Marine Advisory Board tomorrow (Dec. 1) at City Hall at 6 p.m. The meeting will be broadcast on Comcast channel 78 within the city boundaries.

A statement from the Marine Industries Association of South Florida stated that “MIASF, U.S. Coast Guard and the representatives from the railroad have worked in partnership to minimize the impact as much as possible. With safeguards in place, the closure will not exceed the maximum requested time.”

Click for more information on the FEC bridge on the New River.

FEC bridge over the New River in Ft. Lauderdale. PHOTO BY DORIE COX

FEC bridge over the New River in Ft. Lauderdale. PHOTO BY DORIE COX

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About Dorie Cox

Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton.

View all posts by Dorie Cox →

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