The TC Palm: Only minor damage on St. Lucie River bridge, according to new report

Posted on September 24, 2015

Lisa Broadt

STUART — Rail expansion opponents have invoked the dangers of the 75-year-old St. Lucie River drawbridge in their fight against All Aboard Florida since day one.

But a report soon to be released by Martin County seems to reveal a relatively safe bridge, one far from “imminent failure.”

“We expected to see more (damage) because of the current but, basically, most of the cracks can be repaired,” said Terry Rauth, Martin County deputy engineer.

Martin County Commissioners in March commissioned the bridge study, saying it could prove useful in its legal battle against All Aboard Florida. The 48-page report, dated Sept. 11, is based on a series of underwater inspections conducted in May, according to the county.

Rauth on Wednesday downplayed the importance of the bridge study report.

“The report is what it is,” she said. “We couldn’t explore the mechanical portions of the bridge that we’ve been worried about.”

Florida East Coast Railway, the bridge’s owner, declined to provide Martin County access to portions of the bridge above water, and — despite multiple requests made by local governments over the last year — refused to provide safety inspection reports, according to Martin County.

Florida East Coast Railway did not return calls for comment.

Martin County’s concerns about the bridge are becoming more urgent as work on All Aboard Florida proceeds.

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