Martin County now likely to get railroad-bridge inspection report

Posted on February 26, 2016

By Lisa Broadt

Martin County finally will get its hands on a detailed inspection report of the St. Lucie River railroad bridge in Stuart.

The U.S. Department of Transportation on Friday launched a tool on its website that "allows states and municipalities to request inspection reports for rail bridges in their communities."

In the two years since All Aboard Florida announced it would send 32 trains a day through the Treasure Coast, Martin County has unsuccessfully fought to obtain safety information about the 75-year-old drawbridge owned by Florida East Coast Railway.

The railroad, however, has resisted, insisting its safety information is propriety and denying the county's multiple requests for inspection reports.

Officials of both Martin County and Florida East Coast Railway on Friday could not be reached for comment on the Department of Transportation announcement and how they would respond.

Struggles similar to Martin County's have played out across the country, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

"The Federal Railroad Administration has repeatedly urged railroads to be more responsive and more transparent with state and local leaders concerned about the condition of their local railroad bridges," Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg said in a news release Friday.

Feinberg previously has said that when the administration is asked about bridge safety, it's frequently because the public or an elected official had become concerned about a bridge, tried to get answers from a railroad and were "ignored or put off."

Under the new railroad administration guidelines, railroads have 30 days to respond to bridge-inspection report requests.

Local governments can expect to see the reports within 45 days, according to the railroad administration.

Inspection reports will contain information including the date of the bridge's last inspection and a general statement on the bridge's condition.

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