More railroad crossings closing for Brightline upgrades


Brightline established a second track bed alongside the Florida East Coast Railway tracks in downtown Vero Beach before construction begins this week upgrading the railroad and eight crossings for high-speed passenger trains.

Brightline was set to fully close the westbound 20th Street railroad crossing this past Tuesday for three weeks for the installation of a second track and new safety features for high-speed passenger train service.

Westbound 20th Street traffic is being directed to travel north on 11th Avenue to 21st Street, turn west onto 21st Street to 14th Avenue, turn south onto 14th Avenue to 20th Street.

Brightline plans to rebuild eight railroad crossings in downtown Vero Beach by Sept. 25 as part of the $2.7 billion construction of high-speed passenger train tracks between South Florida and Orlando.

Brightline is scheduled to complete construction of high-speed passenger train tracks between Orlando International Airport and West Palm Beach by the end of 2022.

Starting in 2023, Indian River County residents can expect to see 32 Brightline trains per day traveling at speeds of up to 110 mph in addition to 15-to-20 FECR freight trains traveling 40-to-60 mph.

Brightline also announced plans to close the Highland Drive railroad crossing in South Vero at 7 a.m., Monday, June 13 through 7 p.m., Wednesday, June 29. Traffic will be rerouted to 9th Street and Old Dixie Highway.

Brightline mobilized construction equipment and materials near several railroad crossings in downtown Vero Beach to prepare for the upgrades for high-speed passenger trains. The small white rock base of the second railroad bed dug through downtown Vero Beach appeared slightly lower in elevation than the gray gravel FECR railroad bed.

Downtown Vero Beach businesses and patrons will get a break from the railroad construction from June 20 – when work is due to be finished on the 20th Street crossing – until Tuesday, July 5, when work starts on the 19th Place eastbound railroad crossing.

Brightline expects to finish work at 19th Place on Saturday, July 23.

It will overlap with the reconstruction of the Aviation Boulevard railroad crossing, which is to start on Saturday, July 16 and wrap up by Saturday, July 30.

Railroad crossings at 17th Street, 23rd Street, 14th Avenue and 26th Street will also be upgraded for high-speed passenger trains in August, with all four under construction between Aug. 9 and Aug. 18.

Brightline plans to start construction on the 17th Street railroad crossing on Tuesday, Aug. 2 and finish work by Thursday, Aug. 18.

Meanwhile, Brightline scheduled construction on the railroad crossings at 23rd Street, 14th Avenue and 26th Street to start on Tuesday, Aug. 9 and be completed by Saturday, Aug. 27.

The final downtown railroad crossing – 21st Street – will be under construction from Tuesday, Sept. 6 through Sunday, Sept. 25, Brightline’s construction advisory says.

A key component in the overall project is the $33 million replacement of the 96-year-old St. Sebastian River Railroad Bridge linking southern Brevard and northern Indian River counties.

Roseland homeowner Maria Leclair questioned how Brightline expects to start high-speed passenger train service between Orlando and South Florida in 2023 when it took two years to build the first of two replacement bridges and work just started on the second.

“They finished the one side. They put in all new tracks,” Leclair said. “Now they’re starting the second phase going across. I still don’t know how they’re going to finish it by January. It took them over two years just to do the other side.”

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