JENSEN BEACH, Fla. — If you frequent downtown Jensen Beach, prepare for detours and possibly more traffic.
Brightline will spend the next month working on the tracks to the west of downtown. Some business owners are worried about what the weeks-long construction will mean for their bottom line.
On Valentine’s Day, Mulligan’s owner George Hart said he’s typically poised for profits.
“The best day of the year for people to go out. Valentine's Day,” Hart said.
But this year, Jensen Beach Boulevard heading eastbound into downtown was closed as Brightline begins making needed safety upgrades to the railroad crossing to prepare for its trains to travel through the Treasure Coast.
“We’ve been through two years of pandemic. We’ve all suffered for the last two years. We finally have a good staff, we’re finally back in season and here we go again,” Hart said.
He’s worried that the weeks-long construction is happening during peak season, and will deter business.
“June, July, August, September, anytime but February and March, and here they are, right on Valentine's Day,” Hart said.
He thinks he stands to lose up to $100,000 in business from drivers he fears will not want to deal with traffic.
Customers can still get to the businesses by taking detours or by coming up Indian River Drive.
But, he worries traffic coming from Hutchinson Island will also get backed up.
“Can we move it along quickly? Can we get one lane open? These are the things we’re trying to achieve,” Hart said.
A spokesperson for Brightline said they are under a tight schedule to complete 155 railroad crossing upgrades between West Palm Beach and Cocoa Beach by the end of the year to accommodate a second track.
They want to begin passenger service to the north in 2023.
Brightline also said it worked with local governments to get permits and notify county staff of the construction schedule.
It is working to complete the work by March 11, purposely to finish before the downtown Jensen Beach annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations so as not to impact business.
Brightline shared the following detour information:
Full road closure 6 a.m. Monday, Feb. 14 to 6 p.m. Friday, March 11.
• Jensen Beach Blvd. traffic wishing to continue north will be directed to travel north on Skyline Dr. to access Indian River Dr. Southbound:
• Jensen Beach Blvd. traffic wishing to continue south will be directed to travel south on Savannah Rd. to NE Dixie Hwy., travel east on NE Dixie Hwy. through the roundabout to Palmer Ave. and travel east on Palmer Ave. to access Indian River Dr.
Jensen Beach Pedestrian Traffic – Railroad Crossing at Jensen Beach Blvd.
Full sidewalk closure, 6 a.m., Wednesday, February 16 to 6 p.m., Friday, March 11.
• Pedestrian access will be maintained directly adjacent to the north via a flagged temporary sidewalk and crossing. Pedestrians will be able to approach the roundabout from any outlet and then proceed to follow the orange pedestrian arrows.