Coast Guard provides update on rail bridge May 24, 2015

The Coast Guard is trying to come up with a solution for the New River FEC rail bridge that doesn’t harm our industry, MIASF members were informed at a meeting on Tuesday, May 5 at IGFA. Coast Guard Bridge Administrator Barry Dragon gave more than 50 people as well as local and national media an update on the test regulations being implemented for the rail bridge.

In addition to Dragon, Bridge Management Specialists Michael Lieberum and Rod Elkins with the Seventh Coast Guard District attended the meeting.

Previously there was no standard operating procedure for the bridge, and the test regulations are aimed at trying to create one based on current operating needs. MIASF has expressed concern that the test period does not go until May 2016 so it can get a true depiction of marine traffic regardless of the season and including the Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Palm Beach boat show.

The test deviations, which are in effect now, run through October 16, 2015. During the test deviation period, the draw of the FEC Railroad bridge across the New River, mile 2.5, at Fort Lauderdale, FL, will operate as follows:

  • The bridge is constantly tended.
  • The bridge tender will utilize a VHF-FM radio to communicate on channels 9 and 16 and may be contacted by telephone at 305-889-5572.
  • Signage will be posted displaying VHF radio contact information and the bridge tender and dispatch telephone number. A countdown clock for bridge closure shall be posted at the bridge site and visible for maritime traffic.
  • A bridge log will be maintained including, at a minimum, bridge opening and closing times.
  • When the draw is in the fully open position, green lights will be displayed to indicate that vessels may pass.
  • When a train approaches, the lights go to flashing red and a horn starts four blasts, pauses, and then continues four blasts then the draw lowers and locks.
  • After the train has cleared the bridge, the draw opens and the lights return to green.
  • The bridge shall not be closed more than 60 minutes combined for any 120 minute time period beginning at 12:01 a.m.

Comments identified by docket number USCG-2015-0271 may be submitted at

The industry needs to participate in the test, and if we are inconvenienced we need to report the situation along with all of the details to the appropriate parties, MIASF Executive Director Phil Purcell said. “We have to participate as a community,” Purcell said. The possibility of adding additional signage, apps, or a countdown clock at the mouth of the New River also was discussed.

Further down the river, the CSX bridge will be closing for 96 hours while the new bridge is installed sometime around the end of August or early September.

Also, the vertical clearance of the A1A bridge over the Hillsboro Inlet will be reduced by 2 feet from May 26 to June 4 while it is being renovated. During that time, all overnight openings between 7:30 p.m. and 7:30 a.m. will require a four-hour advanced notice to the bridge tender (954-943-1847) and the north and south side channels will be closed to navigation. Additional changes from June 5 to July 2 can be found at

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Marine Industries Association of South Florida. 221 SW 3rd Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Phone: 954.524.2733