A grant application had been approved for the City of Stuart, Brightline and Florida Inland Navigation District for a $130.5 million federal Mega Program grant to help fund replacement of the Florida East Coast Railway bridge over the St. Lucie River. More funds will come from a Strategic Intermodal Systems (SIS) program from the Florida Department of Transportation.

The projected $218 million railway drawbridge will be just west of the existing railway bridge and have double railway tracks and a 16-foot vertical clearance. This drawbridge will allow more than 80% of boat traffic to pass without raising the drawbridge. The current 90-year bridge has a 6-foot, 6-inch vertical clearance, which allows only about 22% of marine traffic to pass underneath without a bridge opening.

“Brightline will secure the balance of the funding through additional grants and/or private sources, with no contribution required from Stuart, and we can look forward to the opening of the new double-tracked railroad bridge in 2028,” City Manager Michael Mortell said. “The new drawbridge will allow freight and passenger trains to move over the river without having to stop to allow other trains to pass. This will help alleviate traffic congestion, and it will also allow the river to flow easier since the new bridge will have 60% fewer piers.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation Mega Program (National Infrastructure Project Assistance program) supports large, complex projects that are difficult to fund by other means and likely to generate national or regional economic, mobility or safety benefits.

“This is history in the making,” said Mayor Becky Bruner. “Our little city is very fortunate to have received this funding, which typically is given to big cities.”