Coast Guard authorizes deviation for Florida drawbridge

The following is the text of a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard:

(MIAMI) — The U.S. Coast Guard has authorized a temporary deviation from current regulations on the Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) railroad bridge across the New River, mile 2.5, at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. This deviation is effective from  6 a.m. on May 18 through 6 a.m. on Oct. 16, and will operate as follows:

    • The bridge owner, Florida East Coast Railway (FEC), will institute a full-time tender to supplement the automated system in place.
    • The tender will use VHF Channels 9 and 16 to communicate with the boating public, as per existing regulations.
    • The tender will also communicate through a published phone number and keep a detailed log of openings and closures.
    • 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.
    • When the drawbridge is in the fully open position, green lights will be displayed to indicate that vessel may pass.  
    • When a train approaches, the lights go to flashing red and a horn start 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.

Also, the bridge shall not be closed for more than 60 minutes in any 120-minute period, beginning at midnight, to balance the needs of maritime and land-based traffic.

The FEC railroad bridge in Fort Lauderdale has a vertical clearance of 4 feet at mean high water in the closed position and horizontal clearance of 60 feet. Traffic on the waterway includes both commercial and recreational vessels.

Presently, in accordance with 33 CFR 117.5, the bridge is required to open on signal for the passage of vessels. The bridge is usually maintained in the open position and only closes for train traffic.

Comments and related material for consideration for changes to the New River drawbridge opening rules must be received by the Coast Guard on or before Aug. 17. Requests for public meetings must be received by the Coast Guard on or before June 16.

Additional information regarding this test deviation and submission of comments can be found at by clicking here.

By Professional Mariner Staff