By Dorie Cox
The New River in Fort Lauderdale is a main navigation route for marine traffic that runs between the Intracoastal Waterway and many marine businesses, shipyards and marinas to the west.
The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) Railroad Bridge crosses the river in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Train schedules for closures to maritime traffic have been under discussion for years.
Home to freight trains and Virgin Trains USA/Brightline passenger service, the tracks see hourly traffic that affect mariners so the U.S. Coast Guard is asking for comments from those affected by bridge closures. As of Aug. 20, the railway bridge has been under a temporary deviation from the regulated operating schedule to test for possible future adjustments.
U.S. Code of Federal Regulation states “this deviation is necessary to test a change to the drawbridge operation schedule to determine whether a permanent change to the schedule is needed. Under this deviation, the bridge shall not be closed more than 60 combined minutes in each consecutive 120-minute block of time, and at no time will this bridge be closed to navigation for more than 60 consecutive minutes of time. This deviation supports ongoing negotiations between the railroad and maritime stakeholders as the parties discuss a Final Rule that reasonably meets their interests.”
Mariners are welcome to comment on the schedule by clicking here. Comments must reach the Coast Guard on or before Thursday, Sept. 19.
Click here for a sample template of comments, provided by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida.
Dorie Cox is editor of The Triton. Comments are welcome below.