Pineda bridge over railroad tracks will improve traffic flow

An aerial photo shows construction of the overpass above the Florida East Coast Railway tracks at the Pineda Causeway.

Completion of the overpass above the Florida East Coast Railway tracks at the Pineda Causeway is slated for December but, considering normal delays and COVID-19-related challenges, county officials are reluctant to name an exact end date for the  $24 million Major General John Cleland Memorial Bridge funded by the Florida Department of Transportation.

"Suffice to say, we have had to push this back a couple of dates already, and we’re hoping to avoid any additional delays,’’ said county spokesman Don Walker, who helped organize a Sept. 26 dedication ceremony, which was originally planned for the completion. It was held early to include family and friends of Cleland, of Viera, who passed away in 2017 at

age 92.

Once completed, the four-lane span will elevate motorists approximately 24 feet above the railroad tracks west of U.S. 1 and near Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy, which has its own traffic signal. It should improve regular traffic flow, currently at 33,000 vehicles per day, off the barrier islands because there is no longer a need to stop for trains, now averaging 14 freight trains a day with expectation for at least 10 more commuter trains daily in 2022.

The overpass was required by the FEC Railway at the time of the Pineda extension and widening to Interstate 95.  It was a condition to granting the county permission to widen the crossing from two to four lanes, earlier said Georganna Gillette, the executive director of the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization.

The causeways in Brevard are extremely important for hurricane evacuation and to get the necessary resources back to the barrier islands after the storm has passed. Pineda Causeway is considered a Military Access Facility in that it provides direct access to the Patrick Air Force Base’s southern gate on State Road 404 at South Patrick Drive, she said.

The original planning for the bridge project occurred prior to the announcement of Brightline’s desire to operate more trains through Brevard County. 

"So, the benefit of the overpass is even greater than before, considering the future increase in passenger and freight traffic,’’ Gillette said.