Federal judge OKs railroad bridge repairs amid concerns from business owners

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - A federal judge has ruled a railroad company may make repairs to a railroad bridge in Downtown Fort Lauderdale as scheduled, despite misgivings from area business owners concerned the project will cause massive financial setbacks.

According to East Coast Railways, crews need to lower the bridge that crosses the New River for 12 days, beginning on Feb. 11, preventing boats from passing through. The repairs will enable All Aboard America, a high-speed rail service that will run from Miami-Dade County to Orlando, to travel through Broward County.

West of the bridge, however, marina after marina stand to lose revenue due to the bridge repairs. “When we found out what their circumstances were, of being shut down 12 days, it’s pretty bad,” said Bob Roscioli of Roscioli Yachting Center.

Affected business owners said the nearly two-week interval will bring about a financial hit they can’t afford to take, and that is why they requested a federal hearing, Friday morning, to ask a judge for more time so they can come up with a different plan.

Greg Poulos of Rolly Marine Service said he crunched the numbers. “It will cause Rolly $660,000, and I can prove that to the penny, and we’re not the biggest one,” he said.

East Coast Railways declined to comment on the situation, but in court, company officials said there was no other option. They said the bridge needs to come down for 12 days to make the repairs.

Roscioli said his business will lose customers immediately. “If you can’t take their boat, they’re going to go to somebody else,” he said.

Business owners said, with the Miami International Boat Show taking place Feb. 16-20, they are already losing money. “They won’t even bring the boats up there because they’re afraid they’re going to get trapped behind the bridge,” said Poulos, “and to enter a boat in the boat show is several thousand dollars per vessel.”

Business owners told 7News they will try to rush an appeal.

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