Traffic Inbox: Pedestrian concerns in Pine Hills

By Ryan Harper, Traffic Anchor
Last Updated: Monday, October 23, 2017, 11:18 AM EDT

The Pine Hills area has had a large number of bad wrecks involving pedestrians and Ruth Hill from Orlando wants to know when or if improvements are coming.

  • Pine Hills sees pedestrian safety phase
  • Phase 1 is between Alhambra Drive and Silver Star Road

She asks:

"When will things change in Pine Hills? There have been so many tragic accidents in the past. It seems like walkers need more options."

Spectrum News 13 gets questions like that all the time regarding pedestrian safety and the Pine Hills area and as it turns out, just this past week the station got word of some significant progress.

For Wednesday afternoon at Barnett Park marked what officials hope is the beginning of a pedestrian safety renaissance for the Pine Hills area as the first phase of the Pine Hills Trail was unveiled.

"It’s very needed," said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. "We love this park. It's one of our really premier parks. And it's in an area that needs parks, that needs opportunities to do things as families."

In fact, it's labeled as the third most needed trail according to Orange County's Trails Master Plan. It's a small step for a much bigger plan for pedestrians and bikers.

"This is an eight-mile section of the first part of what really is a 250 mile trail system all the way from the east coast to the west coast of the state of Florida," added Jacobs.

This ribbon-cutting only marked the opening of Phase 1 of the Pine Hills trail between Alhambra Drive and Silver Star Road for now, a stretch of about two and a half miles. Officials are hoping even that small stretch will have a big impact on an area that always has lots of children.

"It connects a few schools," pointed out Matt Suedmeyer, manager of Orange County Parks and Recreation. "Pine Hills Elementary School and it's really close to Evans High School at the intersection of Silver Star and Pine Hills Road."

The location was seen as ideal because of its safety and seclusion from Pine Hills Road and Hastings Street. With this trail expected to help accommodate more than 60,000 residents, officials hope that this will be a huge recreational asset to a high-density area.

The county's master plan calls for two more phases of the trail. The second phase of the Pine Hills Trail hasn't been funded yet for design or construction but when completed will eventually connect the trail from Silver Star Road to Clarcona Ocoee Road.

The third phase will extend from Clarcona Ocoee Road to the Seminole-Wekiva Trail.

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