Tunnel construction turning heads on State Road 528

 If you’ve driven down State Road 528 lately you’ve probably seen a large rounded tunnel being built.  That’s the future of Brightline railways.  

"This tunnel will allow us to move the train from the south side of 528 to the north side of 528. It will be going approx. 80 mph in this tunnel," said Matt Carroll, assistant project manager for Brightline. 

In the midst of a large plot of dirt-covered land, some major construction is going on, as crews are building the panels that piece together the tunnel on-site along the major roadway.  

"What they’ll do is cast the panels here. They’ll cart them over to the storage yard here. They’ll let them get to their compressive strength.  Once they’ve got their strength they’ll put them on the red truck behind me they’ll take that red truck over to the tunnel.  They’ll pick the panels up with a crane and they’ll set the panels together," Carroll explained.

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This tunnel will be 603 feet long.  Carroll said when it’s complete, two Brightline trains traveling in opposite directions will be able to travel through the tunnel. Over top, car traffic on SR528 eastbound and westbound will be driving on new highway lanes. 

The Brightline rail project construction, which will connect West Palm Beach to Orlando, is just over 50% complete.  Carrol said the tunnel is a critical part of the progress. 

"We can only build rail from east to west until we get to this point then we have to cross the street and work our way to the west. So this is a big chunk of the work in order to get to the work of laying down steel," Carroll explained. 

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Carroll shared a fun fact with FOX 35 News.  It’s going to take ¾ million yards of dirt to build up the roadway over the tunnel. Brightline bought a piece of property on the north side of the 528 where they’re digging a large pond.  The dirt that’s being removed in that process is being put on a conveyor belt that goes over the top of 528 to get it to the Brightline construction site where it will be compacted around the tunnel when. 

The property where the pond is being dug is being sold to a home developer. By using a conveyor belt to move the dirt instead of dump truck, "that saved about 68,000 truckloads of trips up 528 and I-95 ramps. It saved a lot of time and money moving that dirt," Carroll said. 

It also helps limit the number of dump trucks going in and out of traffic on those two busy roadways. 

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