For the last two years I’ve been following the progress of a bridge being built to connect the south end of International Drive, across I-4, to Palm Parkway. It finally opened early March this year when I was on travel to Ft. Leavenworth.
I stumbled across the soon-to-be bridge in March of 2012, a good two years ago. The area had just been cleared of trees and the trees were being ground up into mulch on site. I was reminded of the leveler in the movie FernGully. I’ll always remember that day of discovery because the piles of mulch were still fresh and wet, and I could smell the pine and cypress that had been torn apart.
In less than a month the land was completely barren and sand had been banked up around the entire area on the Palm Parkway side. It was more rainy than normal that year and it quickly filled, becoming a shallow pond.
By May 2012 the water was gone and the sand leveled out yet again. Pylons had been driven into the sandy soil next to I-4 in preparation for building up the bridge on either side of I-4.
By June the ramparts on both sides had started to rise, in preparation for building the spans that would cross I-4. Then the pace of activity seemed to slow. I would drive by, looking for something interesting to photograph, but spotting nothing out of the ordinary I would drive on. It turned out that a good portion of the work was in punching through the road on the east side of I-4 that would connect directly to International Drive. My drive-bys were slowing down because my personal life was getting complicated. It was in November 2011 that I’d had my initial visit to the emergency room for my left knee; during 2012 it was further degenerating, growing too painful to manage through medication and physical therapy. I finally had it operated on in November 2012.
Even during my convalescent period after my operation, my wife and I would continue to occasionally drive by to check on the status of “my bridge.” During that period the Palm Parkway roadway near the entrance to the bridge was rebuilt, such that it was leveled and raised up at least a foot. The open intersection was created. The last time I checked, only to find it still closed, was right before my March trip this year. When I got back I found it had opened.
There’s a new sign near the bridge indicating big plans in store for the surrounding land. According to the sign, I-4 off ramps will be built sometime in 2017 to help support further development. Right now it’s just an overpass.
The destruction of woods and wetlands in Florida is a slow, relentless process. It suits the bean counters so that they can stretch out the funding, and it suits the developers because it slowly sneaks up on us until it’s way too late to stop it. We keep staring over the abyss at environmental disaster, while building bridges and other “infrastructure” to hasten our fall over the edge.