A bicycle and pedestrian bridge over the Sawgrass Expressway could connect west Broward residents with the Everglades.
The expressway is a man-made barrier separating the county’s sprawling suburbia to the east from the River of Grass to the west, making it difficult for residents to fully appreciate nature that is virtually at their doorsteps.
Broward County commissioners will discuss Tuesday the idea of building a bridge that would connect the county’s BB&T Center property in Sunrise with the Conservation Levee Greenway that lines the Everglades.
“There will be an opportunity for people to enjoy seeing the Everglades,” Broward Commissioner Nan Rich said of the proposal.
Officials have not done any design drawings or cost estimates for the bridge, said Lary Mahoney, the county’s director of real estate development.
The county has embarked on a 20-year effort to turn 143 acres around the BB&T Center — and across from Sawgrass Mills mall — into Downtown West, which would include homes, shops, restaurants and offices. The master plan is just now being developed.
“Hopefully, sometime this summer we should have some master plans that we can take out to the general public and show,” Mahoney said.
The idea for the bridge came from an Urban Land Institute study of the project area, which recommended finding a way to connect the site with the Everglades, Mahoney said.
The county would have to buy land from Florida Power & Light to build the bridge and receive permission from the state to have it go above the expressway. It would create another access point to the Conservation Levee Greenway, a dirt path that’s open to bikes and pedestrians already.
There are currently five places for residents to access the levee greenway, north to south, at:
— Arthur R Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, at the western end of Loxahatchee Road in Palm Beach County.
— Atlantic Boulevard Trailhead, at the western end of Atlantic Boulevard, connecting to the Cypress Creek Greenway.
— Markham Park (near State Road 84), connecting to the New River Greenway.
— Sawgrass Recreation Park, on State Road 27.
— Everglades Holiday Park, at end of Griffin Road, connecting only to a southern portion of the levee greenway.
Commissioners will discuss the proposed bridge at their meeting Tuesday. Check back for updates.