The West Orange Trail Bridge is a landmark in Orange County, northwest of Orlando. When driving through the turnpike, many see it as the entrance to Orange County. More than 65,000 vehicles drive under it every day, and a million people use the trail every month. Needless to say, it’s become a staple in the community. However, all of that is about to change. Officials closed the bridge to prepare for its demolition. That’s right, the iconic West Orange Trail Bridge is about to be no more. However, don’t fret just yet. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) plans to open a new bridge. A bigger bridge with higher rails and safer infrastructure to fit in with the modernization coming to the turnpike.
What Happened to the West Orange Trail Bridge?
Wider roads are the downfall of the bridge. One of the many sites of the FDOT’s rails-to-trails project in the 90’s. This project converted out-of-use railroad lines and converted them to recreational trails. The Trail Bridge is one of the more recognizable conversions. However, officials need to expand the road from State Road 50 to the interchange at Hancock Road. The old bridge just cannot keep up with the improvements. They cannot expand the trail as it doesn’t have the infrastructure to support it.
However, when one door closes, another one opens. In this case, another bridge shall open. A bigger bridge, with a modern steel truss design, This new bridge will have higher fencing for horse riding and be able to span across the turnpike. Officials will even take the signage from the old bridge and allocate it to the new bridge, the New West Orange Trail Bridge. The whole project for the bridge and the highway expansion will cost the city $162 million, but officials say it’s a long time coming. In the meantime, hikers and bikers should head to County Road 438 if they wish to cross the turnpike until the new bridge is ready.
It’s a shame that such an iconic feature will soon see its last days. However, the new bridge promises to be everything the old bridge was and more. Growing populations result in new infrastructure changes. Central Florida needs to evolve, and the West Orange Trail Bridge is just a side effect of our evolution.