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FEC - New River Bridge


FEC-New River Bridge

Photo taken by Phillip Pessar

License: Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY)


BH Photo #328111

Street View 


Art M

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Flying North

Video by Mark Boettcher

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The bridge is similar to 2 other railroad bridges in Florida. This bridge has two arms connected to this girder span and it's still in use for train traffic.


Posted on https://www.jordanyachts.com/1880 on FEBRUARY 22, 2010 BY RICHARD JORDAN. Copied and pasted here 1/9/2022.

This New River icon is a single span that crosses from the North to South banks. On the southeast side is Apex Marine, the old Allied yard. On the southwest side is old Shirttail Charlie’s restaurant. The north side is Riverwalk and the historic district of Fort Lauderdale. Three railroad bridges have spanned here – the current one since 1978. It is a wacky, unpredictable impediment to boaters with virtually no clearance when seated down. The Florida East Coast railroad passes on the rails.

History Merryln Rathburn explains how the current railroad route was decided on. It takes a jog to the west through downtown Fort Lauderdale. Flagler was following the Atlantic coastal ridge. It makes sense for a railway. But, if they followed the Atlantic coastal ridge it would have taken them through Collie’s hammock. And Mary Brickel owned the plat and planned to develop a luxury neighborhood. She said I don’t think so. She was a powerful woman. Good for her. So if you look, the railroad runs pretty far east and then gradually at about sunrise veers westward and crosses the new river downtown. We owe this to Mary Brickel.

They would have liked to gone across at near the mouth of the New River through Collie’s Hammock, but because of Mary Brickel the route is through downtown. According to historian Bob Hathaway, the bridge was first installed in 1895. It carried one rail over the river. Another bridge was installed in 1925, again a single track. The new bridge leaf moved from the south to the north side of the river. Seth Branson the FEC historian says, “Most interesting was it always was a single rail bridge.” During these periods, the trains carried loads of passengers and freight. The passenger station was on the north side of the New River crossing. Seth says, “The passenger trains were long. Passengers would have to walk from the end of the train to the station. Southbound trains were mostly arrivals coming from Buffalo, Chicago, and other places up north. Northbound trains were departures. The passengers arriving would have to walk southward to the station. The passengers departing would have to walk a good way towards the New River to get on their passenger car.” Around 1954-1955, they moved the station to the south side of the New River at around SE 12th Street. Sometime during this period the FEC modified the incoming and outgoing tracks to have two rails. At the bridge, these rails would merge and split going over the single track. This lead to more closings and a boating bottleneck, so in 1978, they put in a new 2 rail line bridge. The trains became strictly freight loads.

Commuter Merryln Rathburn explains the current debate about running commuter trains along the railroad. “The problem has always been the boat traffic. They’d like to put commuter traffic on the railroad. And a commuter train would be great on the railroad. It runs through downtown where everyone wants to go. Now say about 17, 18 loads go across a day. In a peak economy that would go up to say 25 loads. Now if you add commuters you’re talking about 50 loads a day. We can’t handle that.” The river would be blocked constantly to boaters. Instead, officials are thinking of building a separate commuter bridge next to the railroad. “So a thought is to build a high rise line for commuters in addition to the current line. Either the high rise line would be fixed or have a small opening for the tallest masts. The other option is a tunnel. The prohibitory thing is the cost with a tunnel.” At the mention of a fixed bridge boaters go defensive. Tom a local yacht broker reacts, “They’re not going to put a fixed bridge there!” in an aggressive and strong voice. A fixed bridge would crush much of Fort Lauderdale’s boating industry.

Seth Bransom says, “It is all preliminary discussion at the moment. We are not building a tunnel. The choices are either to build a new bridge of 3, 4 tracks or build a separate bridge. I am not an engineer. My job is the company historian.”

Gator Bridge Jo Ann Medalie works with the Centennial Celebration Committee headed by Clay Shaw. This committee is planning to celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the City of Fort Lauderdale which was founded in 1911. In 2011, they are setting up displays throughout the city. For instance, they plan to light up the underside of the 17th Street causeway with different color lights. Another idea is the “Gator Bridge.” Here is their YouTube Video to the right.

In 1990, Jo Ann had a friend named Susyn Stecchi at the city of Fort Lauderdale. Susyn used to eat lunch on Riverwalk. Jo Ann says, “And Susyn would come back and say ‘when I look at that bridge all I can think of is a gator – a big, green gator.'” They approached various groups including the University of Florida but did not get anywhere. The technology was not quite there at the time either.

Now, it would be easy. They are in deep deliberation with the FEC and city. The biggest obstacle is the city deciding if the Gator bridge is a fun idea or a unfavorable one. The FEC according to Susyn, “Didn’t close the door say your crazy.” But they have concerns about accessing welds 4 times a year on the bridge for maintenance. The Centennial Committee is working on putting together a plan of scaffolding bolted on instead of a vinyl coating. The teeth could be as simple as orange traffic cones. Eyeballs go on the railroad seating.

Feb 16th is a day to decide to go forward with the plans. The bridge would be gatorized for 1-3 years starting around December 2010 Winterfest. It would be visible at night.

On the Water Two people are aboard each train: the conductor and operator. The engineer blows the whistle and rings the bells. The conductor controls the speed and logs paperwork. They both keep their eyes out for people doing stupid, dangerous things like dodging gates.

These days 7-8 trains run each direction in day. They run 24 hours a day. Kevin Bray, a local yacht broker, mentions that “usually their is one in the afternoon at around 4pm.” Seth says, “Train number 101 leaves from Hialeah every day at 8:30pm.” When the economy improves the FEC hopes to hit 12 trains each directions to add up to 24 a day. The bridge has a sensor. If a boat is under it while the bridge closes, the bridge will stop and go back up. While down, the marquee says the time until the bridge comes/leaves.


Bridge over New River on Railroad (FEC)
Fort Lauderdale, Broward County, Florida
Open to traffic
The bridge was first installed in 1895 and carried one rail over the river. Another bridge was installed in 1925, again a single track. Current bridge was built in1978.
- Florida East Coast Railway (FEC)
Also called
Approximate latitude, longitude
+26.11851, -80.14539   (decimal degrees)
26°07'07" N, 80°08'43" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/585443/2889088 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Fort Lauderdale South
Inventory number
BH 58510 (Bridgehunter.com ID)


Bascule (1,096)
Broward County, Florida (43)
Built 1978 (77)
Built during 1970s (995)
Deck girder (6,336)
Florida (682)
Florida East Coast Railway (45)
Fort Lauderdale, Florida (18)
Girder (11,225)
Have street view (29,239)
Movable (3,136)
Navigable waterway (2,212)
New River (28)
Open (41,013)
Railroad (16,520)

Update Log 

  • January 13, 2022: New photo from Mark Boettcher
  • January 9, 2022: Updated by Mark Boettcher: Photos and video added. Copied and pasted a history of the bridge from https://www.jordanyachts.com/1880
  • August 27, 2018: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • December 19, 2016: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • November 30, 2015: New Street View added by Douglas Butler
  • November 20, 2015: New video from Douglas Butler
  • June 12, 2015: New photo from Phillip Pessar
  • June 10, 2015: New photo from Phillip Pessar
  • October 4, 2014: New photo from Douglas Butler
  • October 22, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Mapped
  • October 22, 2013: Added by Douglas Butler

Related Bridges 



FEC - New River Bridge
Posted July 23, 2015, by Douglas

A crazy naked man was on top of the raised drawbridge May/ 26/15 this time.

FEC New River Bridge
Posted October 27, 2013, by Douglas Butler (drawbridges [at] lycos [dot] com)

Yes it was some how she was coming from a breast cancer organization.

FEC New River Bridge
Posted October 26, 2013, by Anonymous

Is this the bridge that a woman got trapped on when trespassing on railroad property?