Lie Down on the Tracks? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Railroad Bridge, Stuart Florida. (Photo JTL)
Railroad Bridge, Stuart Florida. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014.)
Classic photo of original wooden trestle bridge over the St Lucie River and train-- courtesy of the Historical Society and Sandra H. Thurlow.)
Classic photo of original wooden trestle bridge over the St Lucie River and train, 1894. (Courtesy of the Historical Society of MC and Sandra H. Thurlow.)
train
Train going over new steel railroad bridge in 1905. (Archives of  Historical Society of MC and Sandra Henderson Thurlow, “Stuart on the St Lucie.”)
The present railroad movable part that was built/added in 1925. (SHT)
The present railroad movable part, “wide enough to accommodate a double track”  was built/added in 1925. (“Stuart on the St Lucie,” Sandra Henderson Thurlow.)

Did you know that Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway was originally named “Jacksonville, St Augustine and Indian River Railway? ” I didn’t until I re-read The Railroad chapter my mother’s book “Stuart on the St Lucie.” The name was changed on September 9, 1895 to the infamous and famous “Florida East Coast Railway.” The train did and does, massively affect our Indian River Lagoon Region.

Yesterday, All Aboard Florida had a poster presentation at the Kane Center where the public was allowed to view and then put hand written comments in boxes. The Stuart News said 800 people showed up. When I was there, the tension was thick between the public and the paid, mostly young, working “presenters” in the room. These presenters looked exhausted. As usual business and outside politicians don’t know what they are in for when they come to Martin County. Like a mother bear protecting her cub, we fight for the beauty, tranquility and “quality of life” of our area. AAF met NOT All Aboard Florida. It was a train wreck…

I personally, am not against train travel at all, in fact I am for it,  but I am against All Aboard Florida as there are no benefits, only unfunded mandated costs to the Treasure Coast area  to maintain equipment and tracks and to alter the pleasant areas of downtown crossings that fill our counties.

Also it is so obvious that this is really about freight of course: the widening of the Panama Canal, the expansion of the Port of Miami, about feeding “all those people in Orlando” as it is encouraged to grow, consume, and excrete pollution that will drain down the Kissimmee then into Lake Okeechobee and be released into our rivers. It’s about Airglades Airport that really is not about the Sugarhill development “proper” as much as the already “approved” Airglades Airport Inland Port in Hendry County that will scare away every panther that has quietly walked that remote part of Florida over hundreds of years and yes affect Everglades restoration.

South Florida is headed to become a shipping center.

I recommend we lie down on the tracks. Honestly. I don’t want AAF’s freight corridor or fake passenger through trains. Not here.

Since a picture speaks a thousand words,  I will stop “talking”and let you take a look at what we are, and you can image what we will become, how our real estate and marine industry will change, and what these new shipping tracks and trains will look like—unless of course, we rise up and change the course of history…never doubt that that can be achieved.

Google Earth view of Roosevelt Bridge today 2014.
Google Earth view of Old and New Roosevelt Bridges today 2014.
Train going over railroad track 2014
Train going over SLR railroad track 2014
Close up
Close up
The railroad bride up, built in 1925 and now expected to allow 32 more trains plus freight to drive over it.
The railroad bridge up, built in 1925 and now expected to allow 32 more trains plus freight to drive over it.
Close up view
Close up view of the past to become the future.

14 thoughts on “Lie Down on the Tracks? St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. An opposing view:

    What an amazing change in attitudes has taken place since 2010 when Amtrac and FDOT were proposing resumption of passenger service down the FEC Railway. At that time virtually EVERY town and public agency along the FEC tracks had submitted letters in support of the proposal and when, on April 30, 2010 and May 1, 2010 Amtrac sent down the first passenger train to traverse the FEC tracks in nearly 50 years HAPPY crowds came out to greet the train as it made it’s way back from Miami to Jacksonville. Here is a short video from that Saturday morning when the inspection train made it’s stop in Ft. Pierce.

    For the Southbound leg of that trip, I observed it’s passing from the Railway’s ROW behind my home (between Midway and Walton Road) as it went by at 79 MPH. All that was detectable even that close, about 60 feet from the track, was a bit of a “woosh” and virtually NO vibrations. The Amtrac train is a bigger and heavier trainset than is proposed for AAF service (scheduled for 110 MPH through this section) and I seriously doubt if noise or vibration will be an issue. For those of us who very literally live adjacent to the railway, even the freight trains passage falls into the unobserved background – except for the required warning horn sounding at roadway crossings.

    As for the current proposal by AAF to resume “limited scheduled passenger service” connecting Miami and Orlando, this is a pure business decision that grew out of the failed proposal for a high speed train service connecting Tampa and Orlando with one MAJOR distinction – the current proposal is a private business enterprise rather than a purely public expense. Plain and simple, the “numbers” are there to justify the investment.

    Double tracking the Railway and changing the signal system to positive train control are ONLY necessary for this line to accommodate dual use for both passenger and freight service. It is NOT, as some have claimed, all for freight. The freight service on the FEC does not need these improvements. As it exists, the FEC Railway is one of the best constructed and maintained rail lines in the country and provides exclusive rail access to the ports of Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, and Palm Beach.

    Is there an increase coming for freight movement on the FEC? Yes, without a doubt. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent to deepen the Port of Miami and make other Port improvements to accommodate the coming “Post Panamax” container ships. The FEC spur line to the port has been rebuilt and various yard improvements are underway to accommodate the coming increase. This is a fact and a given (even if this fact has been talked about, or covered by “the media”, very little “up this way”.

    I firmly believe that once this initial AAF service route proves successful that service will be extended to both Tampa and Jacksonville and that additional stops will be incorporated. I also firmly believe that the likelihood of resuming Amtrac’s interstate passenger rail service on the FEC Railway will be enhanced.

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    1. Rick I always get a lot out of you writings especially when they are in idea different than my own. Honestly you make me see things another way. Maybe you are right! Nonetheless I think the part of the AAF deal –the easement given to AAF by our state along 528 from Orlando to Cocoa that allowed this whole thing to happen has been going on long before the Tampa to Orlando rail was squashed. The powers that be have been planning this for a long long time….

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      1. Jacqui

        I don’t consider myself to be a “foamer” as some rail fans are called, but I do, unabashedly consider myself to be a rail fan having spent my early life in Connecticut and having taken the train down to NYC to see the Yankees or the Brooklyn Dogers play or out further on Long Island to visit my grandparents many times. Even “way back then” travel by train (up there) was preferable to travel by car.

        In the Summer of 1960, Dad was considering a relocation move from P&W East Hartford to the New Florida Research and Development Center in Palm Beach County. We took the train from Hartford to West Palm Beach as our vacation trip that summer to check the area out and ultimately made the move in January 1961. Yes, I am a rail fan and even wrote my Senior Year Economics Term Paper on Flagler and his impact on the development of Florida’s East Coast (which I’ve updated and included on my own web site –

        http://rickinbham.tripod.com/TownOfSIRD/SIRD_FECRailway.html

        Since moving back to Florida myself, in 1999, I have been a follower of “all things FEC” via the FECrailway Yahoo Group and for the past 5 or 6 years I’ve also been a member of the Florida East Coast Railway Society. We hosted speakers from the AAF Group as our keynote speakers at our September 2012 convention in Stuart.

        Indeed, the “powers that be” HAVE been working on this a long time – in one form or another. Resuming passenger rail service has been a “favorite topic of speculation” in the FECrailway group for as long as I’ve been a member of that discussion group. I first saw these “plans” in written form in the 2006 FDOT Florida Passenger Rail Vision Plan –

        http://www.dot.state.fl.us/rail/FECAmtrak/16G1%20-%20Florida%20Passenger%20Rail%20Vision%20Plan%20-%202006.pdf

        It was very seriously being “planned for” in the 2006 – 2008 time frame and resulted in this 2010, 100% Federal – FDOT/Amtrac project proposal in 2010 –

        http://www.dot.state.fl.us/rail/HSIPR-FECAmtrakApplication.shtm

        This is the passenger rail proposal that would restore service From Jacksonville to Miami with something like 16 stops planned along the way including stops at Ft. Pierce and Stuart… and the “Plan” which prompted that Amtrac Inspection trains trip down the FEC Railway.

        I’ve been following AAF’s progress since they made their first announcement of the plan in early 2012. Do I think that AAF had deals in place for the 528 corridor route from Cocoa to Orlando – very simply – NO.

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  2. For what ever reason, the video link was to my You Tube “channel” – please scroll down the playlist to the video titled 2010-05-01 014.MOV

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  3. On a side note to the train, I store equipment at the port of Ft Pierce. I was informed today that the property is under contract and will change hands by 1 January. It sounds like the King family is cutting and running since the fuel farm and track extensions have failed.
    I hope this is also a sign that the train will move west too.

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  4. Reblogged this on pjoy17 and commented:
    I have said this same thing , if they insist and put these dang trains through, lets have every resident of the treasure coast lie down on these tracks , the trains will not be able to move , that will be our message that they will have to listen to!

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  5. Jacqui, once again you and I think alike, someone asked me ‘ what do we do if the trains come? I said ‘ we will lie on the tracks’ if we all lie on the tracks , everyone of us here on the treasure coast, the trains can come and they can’t arrest us all. I was in Indiantown yesterday saw the Amtrack train that goes from Indiantown to Orlando go through while there , why isn’t there a stop there? The price from West Palm to Orlando is much cheaper than what All Aboard is advertising , they have two trains a day through there now . If there is such a need for transportation by train you would think amtrack would have picked up on it.

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  6. Notice the concrete footers that are supporting the old bridges. I do not believe they had any pile driving equipment in 1895 and ALL bridges had footers that were made by removeing SOFT coquina rock from the shore and tamping it in a mold –adding burnt coquina to make it harden. The heavy weight of the concrete pressing down on a big area supported the weight of the train. Building material are ready on the job site .How convenient this must have been. The only problem is this shore that once neutralized all the acids and provided calcium for all the creatures is now probably burning with acid. 3 years ago I checked our west shore here in Melbourne with a meter.I came about 3 foot from the shore and dug down about 5 inchs.Over a 20 mile stretch the PH was between 3.5 and 5–about as acidic as viniger.All the wind blown baby creatures never had a chance.Instead of the wind carrying them into a calcium rich environment they were burnt up in acid..When the water is cold I pour beach sand in the water on this shore and when I put my foot in the sand I can feel the heat from the chemical reaction.

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