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Trains causing traffic jams in Riviera Beach

Freight trains spending more time stopped on tracks in city
Posted at 8:52 AM, Jan 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-28 11:36:09-05

RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. — For years, freight trains have been traveling through the city of Riviera Beach, causing delays and blocking major intersections, but lately it's gotten worse on the route from Jacksonville to Miami.

City Manager Jonathan Evans said over the past two years, freight trains have become longer, and they are spending more time stopping on the tracks.

"So, you have a situation where the port is collecting items from the Jacksonville area or other places in the United States," said Evans. "And so, it stops here to load its cargo or to pick up cargo and that's where it creates that perfect storm, right, that situation where if it was in another place, any community that has that kind of operations would experience."

According to Port of Palm Beach spokesperson Yaremi Farinas, the Florida East Coast Railway train leaves Jacksonville and comes into South Florida. It stops in the City of Riviera Beach at the FECR interchange (Blue Heron Boulevard to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) and uncouples the rail cars headed to the port from the rest of the train.

It's a predicament that causes drivers to end up waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour.

Evans explained the biggest concern right now is for police and fire-rescue. The past few months there have been some close calls with delays in response times.

"I have personally witnessed situations where emergency vehicles have been at intersections with the lights on trying to cross the tracks, and invariably they have to divert," said Evans. "And so it becomes a situation where our residents are inconvenienced our businesses our inconvenience our and our normal daily lives."

Despite the ongoing setbacks, Riviera Beach Fire Chief James Curd said in the event of an emergency, residents can be assured there's no call that will go unanswered. The fire department has multiple locations throughout the city and works closely with first responders from neighboring municipalities.

"We have mutual aid agreements with West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens and Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, which will ensure that the help requested gets there," said Curd.

Plans are also in the works to determine if the trains schedule can be adjusted and if there are alternative options available for transporting cargo into the Port of Palm Beach.