Sunday, June 20, 2021

The Land Bridge

I’m riding west on the paved Santos Trail and go over the Land Bridge. This is where all of the hiking, equestrian and cycling trails of The Cross Florida Greenway come together to cross the Interstate 75 Highway. While the bridge was built primarily for recreation, night time motion activated cameras have shown it also serves as a crossing for bears, panthers, deer, and other wildlife. The bridge has proved to be a lot safer for all users than jumping the fence and dodging the traffic. 

Completed in 2000, the Cross Florida Greenway Land Bridge was the first of its kind in the United States. In a sentence it’s a 300 foot long, 50 foot wide thousand ton concrete planter holding soil, rock, trees, native plants, and a watering system all thrown together with some massive beams and a center support which enable it to span the six lane road below.

It’s not possible for me to go any further without mentioning Marjorie Harris Carr the environmentalist without whom none of  this would have been possible. She succeeded in having the lands acquired for the Cross Florida Barge Canal (the largest unfinished public works project in US history) repurposed for recreational use. What a gift to us all!

And speaking of the canal – as I continue west off the bridge the path swings downhill to the left followed by a 90 degree turn to the right. Here where the trail levels off and is straight for the the next mile I am in the bottom of the ditch dug for the canal. On my right through the trees I can see the rise of the side of the canal which if completed would have been 150 feet wide and 12 feet deep and enable barges to carry freight the 172 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Coast.
Enjoy the trails and STOP to read the informational plaques along the way.

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