County Commission gives final OK to public-funded bridge at Universal

Bridge to fly over Hollywood Way at Adventure Way

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Orange County Board of Commissioners voted 4-3 Tuesday to allow tax money to fund a pedestrian bridge on property at Universal Orlando.

Approval from the commission was the last barrier the resort needed to move ahead with plans to build the project. It will connect Universal's new Cabana Bay Beach Resort with an access area to the theme parks, flying over Hollywood Way at Adventure Way.

Funds come from the special tax district, which includes Universal Orlando Resort. John McReynolds, senior vice president of external affairs at Universal, argued since the theme parks create the majority of the tax revenue in that area the bridge project is an appropriate use of the funds.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs voiced concerns over how much of the bridge should be funded by tax dollars. She said she'd be more comfortable supporting a plan that would call for Universal to share the bill with the tax funds.

Jacobs, along with commissioners Ted Edwards and Pete Clarke, voted against measure. Scott Boyd, Fred Brummer, Jennifer Thompson and Tiffany Moore Russell voted for it.

McReynolds touted Universal's economic impact as proof the project would be worth the investment. He also explained that tax revenue is only projected to grow from new Universal projects, including room for more hotels and the new Transformers attraction.

Orlando City Council members gave their own approval of the plan for bridge funding Monday. The tax district that created the money to be used is a joint venture between the county and the city.

The bridge is expected to open along with the new hotel in early 2014, according to a Universal spokesman.

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