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STUART, Fla (Dec. 20, 2023) -- The City of Stuart, Florida, the lead applicant on a joint application with Brightline and Florida Inland Navigation District for a $130.5 million federal Mega Grant to help fund replacement of the Florida East Coast Railway bridge over the St. Lucie River, was notified late Monday, December 18, 2023, by U.S. Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) that the grant application had been approved, with additional funding coming from a Strategic Intermodal Systems (SIS) program from the Florida Department Transportation.
The projected $218 million new railway drawbridge will be located just west of the existing railway bridge and will encompass double railway tracks and a 16-foot vertical clearance, which 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 only allows approximately 22% of marine traffic to pass underneath without a bridge opening.
“This is an incredible amount of grant funding for a community of our size,” said City of Stuart City Manager Michael Mortell. “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.”
“The new drawbridge will allow freight and passenger trains to move over the river without having to stop to allow other trains to pass,” said Mortell. “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 Grant 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 City of Stuart Mayor Becky Bruner. “Our little city is very fortunate to have received this funding, which typically is given to big cities.”
The City of Stuart, Florida, was first settled in 1870. incorporated in 1914 and chartered in 1925. Stuart was originally named Potsdam from 1893 to 1896 and was named by Otto Stypman one of the earliest settlers of Stuart. Otto Stypman and his brother, Ernest, arrived in 1892 and were originally from Potsdam, Germany. The Stypman brothers originally owned what is now known as “Downtown Stuart” and were large landowners. They started their fortunes in pineapple farming. The name was changed to Stuart after the FEC railroad was established and was named after Homer Hine Stuart, Jr., another early settler.
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