Could Brightline trains one day ride through a tunnel under the New River?

Brightline train passengers may one day be whisked through the heart of Fort Lauderdale — over a high span or even through a tunnel — in a big change in how trains get past the New River.

These days, they must cross a monstrous drawbridge in the downtown, a sore point for the city’s marine industry, which for years has seen boat traffic delayed by Florida East Coast Railway freight trains that rumble over the span.

And boaters assert things only worsened last year when Brightline, which is being rebranded as Virgin Trains USA, began serving the public in 2018.

At an Urban Land Institute conference on investment and development in Fort Lauderdale last Monday, Mayor Dean Trantalis raised the idea of a tunnel to resolve the problem. He brought it up before an audience of real estate and land use experts after he was asked to name signature projects he would like to see while in office.

Trantalis said through spokesman Scott Wyman on Thursday that “his mentioning of a tunnel is more aspirational in nature in that he wants alternatives considered.”

“While he believes something must be done to address the conflicts created by the expanding rail use, he has concerns about the bridge ideas being floated,” Wyman said.