Orlando approves $4.5M pedestrian bridge connecting hotel to Universal Studios

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Orlando City Council members voted Tuesday to spend $4.5 million to build a pedestrian bridge to connect a new resort hotel to the Universal Studios Resort.

By March 2014, the 1,800-room Cabana Bay Beach Resort hotel complex will open on Kirkman Road, bringing thousands of guests to the area.

And Universal is building a pedestrian bridge to safely get guests across Hollywood Way to the theme park, but it wanted the city of Orlando to pay for it.

The Cabana Bay project is just one of a series of expansions under way at Universal, including this summer's highly anticipated Transformers attraction.

The company is spending hundreds of millions of dollars, but it also asked the city of Orlando to join in with a $9 million investment in upgrades to Hollywood and Adventure ways, including the construction of the bridge.

City commissioners said it's critical to support companies like Universal that bring jobs and drive tourism, and the $9 million would come from a fund specifically set aside to make transportation improvements in the Universal area, money that essentially can't be spent on anything else.

The hotel is scheduled to open in early 2014 with reservations already being accepted for stays beginning on March 31, 2014.

Guests at the hotel will be a brief walk from Universal Orlando's theme parks and Universal CityWalk, and officials hope the new bridge makes the commute a lot easier.