Limited to 15 ton vehicles since May of this year, the bridge over the St Marks trail at Orange Avenue is in a bad enough state for an accelerated replacement. Not much of a surprise to those of us that ride under it: the combination of wooden pilings and termite mounds doesn’t seem a good sign. As firetrucks now are forced to make a large detour, it also affects the emergency response times for some neighborhoods.
At the Capital Region Transportation Planning Agency board meeting Sept 16th, the Florida Department of Transportation proposed a very fast replacement with concrete block piling and prefabricated concrete slabs, during the 2014 school summer break, essentially aiming to get it done in 9 weeks starting June 2nd 2014. Both Orange Avenue and the St Marks trail will be closed during that time, and the trail probably being closed there from mid May to the beginning of September. The resurfacing of Orange Avenue that was planned for this fall will be postponed until next year.
The bridge design includes two 12′ traffic lanes, 4′ bike lanes, and a sidewalk on the south side. It will still stay a bridge. Proposals for eliminating the bridge with an at level crossing, a bicycle/pedestrian tunnel, or a bike-ped overpass had been eliminated already. The passage will be slightly more tunnel-like in comparison with the current configuration, as the passage under Orange Ave will be longer, narrower, and lower. In spite of that, with the addition of bikelanes on Orange, this is probably the best achievable outcome for cyclists. This part of the trail will be more heavily used in the future with the connection to the Capital Cascade Trail and the downtown area, and (hopefully) a connection to the FSU campus and the northern part of the St Marks trail to Ocala Rd. What is still missing is a way to get to the trail from Orange Avenue. – Hans van Tol-