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Maitland Pedestrian Bridge: A New Icon

maitland ped bridge

By Dan Tracy

Moving cars and trucks swiftly is the main goal of the $2.3 billion overhaul of Interstate 4, but what motorists might notice more when they finally speed along on new pavement are some unusual, landmark touches added to the highway.

There will be a sleek, new suspension bridge for pedestrians arching over I-4 at Maitland, dozens of fountains in lakes and retention ponds near the road and lighted 70-foot-tall spires marking the way to four toll lanes that are the main component of the project expected to last six and one half years.

Along the way, the work will aid Central Florida employment rolls as well. At its peak, the so-called I-4 Ultimate should employ some 2,000 engineers, designers, managers and construction workers of all types, from layers of asphalt to drainage experts.

Right now, about 130 people, stationed in a 42,000-square-foot building just off I-4 at the Maitland interchange, are toiling on the redo. The number of employees will climb steadily as the renovation ramps up, said Jon Walker, program project manager for SGL Constructors, which is overseeing the effort.

“We’re at the swelling of people stage,” he said.

Preliminary tasks already are underway, with technicians taking soil samples and checking the condition of the existing road along the 21-mile corridor, from Kirkman Road to the west to State Road 434 to the east.

Motorists will start to notice more activity in February, when trees and vegetation are cleared and barrier walls and orange barrels are installed to separate workers and equipment from traffic.

By summer, the heavy earth movers will be on site, rearranging large amounts of dirt and creating new road beds. No lanes will be closed during the day – only at night, well after the evening rush home.

Although work will be divided into four sections – Kirkman to Michigan Street; downtown; Colonial Drive to Eatonville; Maitland to SR 434 – it will occur at the same time, Walker said. Much of the activity will occur in downtown, most of which is elevated at least 16 feet off the ground. That makes the work more difficult and time consuming.

Perhaps the part of I-4 that will catch the most eyes is the Maitland pedestrian bridge, which will have an 80-feet-tall arch spanning the highway. The curved bridge will be made of steel and concrete held in place by steel cables one and a quarter inch thick.

At nearly 700 feet long and 12 feet wide (or about the same width as an interstate lane), it will start at Wymore Road and come down on a to-be-built bike path. Construction should start in 2017 and take a year to complete, Walker said.

It was designed by architect Fred Gottenmoeller, who has spent 42 years building bridges and highways all over the country. The structure is so complex it will be built in nine phases, said Walker, who added his team wanted the Maitland bridge to stand out.

“We just saw an opportunity for something iconic,” he said.

SGL Constructors also intends to put in three different types of fountains in the retention ponds and lakes near the interstate. Although there is not breakout yet of how many or exactly where they will go, the fountains will have a distinctive feature: one will shoot out a geyser-like spout, another will have cascading shoots and the third will create a “celestial” pattern of water.

Marking the way in and out of the toll lanes – which will have variable pricing depending on how clogged the road is – will be lighted spires. Shorter pylons will be placed along most overpasses, some of which will showcase the names of nearby cities.

Near the Amway Center downtown, the rebuilt highway will have lights installed on its underside to illuminate the walkway between the Church Street Station entertainment district and the arena. The lights will be different colors, Walker said.

“This is not,” he said, “just your typical project.”

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