Seminole County to build two tunnels at busy intersections along Wekiva Trail

County hopes tunnels at SR 434 and SR 436 will be finished by 2025

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County leaders are moving forward with new safety efforts at busy intersections along the Seminole Wekiva Trail.

The board of commissioners voted 4 to 1 during Tuesday’s meeting in favor of building underground tunnels at the trail crossings at S.R. 434 and Orange Avenue and S.R. 436 and Laurel Street.

As bikers and walkers travel along the nearly 14 mile stretch of the Seminole Wekiva Trail, they eventually run into S.R. 434 and S.R. 436. Currently, the only way to safely cross is using the crosswalk.

County hopes tunnels at SR 434 and SR 436 will be finished by 2025 (Copyright 2022 by WKMG ClickOrlando - All rights reserved.)

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“Just a regular pedestrian. You go punch the button and cross with the lights,” Bill Wharton, Seminole County’s transportation planning manager said.

Wharton said the area is booming with businesses and traffic. He said more than 100,000 cars drive on S.R. 434 and S.R. 436 daily.

He adds all of the traffic is making some bikers and walkers take a detour.

“We’ve had some reports of people get so far, look at the expanse of asphalt they have to cross and turn around and go back the other way,” Wharton said.

The board of commissioners is moving forward with a plan to build two tunnels at the crossings along the busy state roads.

Commissioners considered building bridges but opted to take the trail underground because they said the tunnels would make a more enjoyable experience.

“This is truly a signature trail,” Chairman Bob Dallari said. “Whatever we decide it’s not just a local opportunity, it’s not just a regional opportunity, it’s a state opportunity of what we’re trying to do.”

There are already two tunnels along the trail at Lake Mary Boulevard and International Parkway and SR 434 and Markham Woods Road.

The county said the two new tunnels will cost more than $34 million.

Commissioner Andria Herr was the only vote against the tunnels. She said the tunnels cost twice as much as the bridge and she doesn’t think they’re safer.

“I don’t think that we’ve taken into consideration in all of the presentations where a woman feels safe, where a mother feels safe about a kid going into a tunnel. I would tell my kids don’t go in a tunnel, walk across the road first,” Herr said.

The county is hoping to get additional funding from MetroPlan Orlando to help cover the costs. Officials said there will also be security cameras and gates installed at the new tunnels.

Wharton said the next step is the design phase and then construction. The county hopes the tunnels will be finished by 2025.


About the Author:

Amanda Castro, a proud UCF alum, joined the News 6 team in November 2015 and was promoted to weekend morning anchor in April 2016. Go Knights!