Welcome Home Water Lily Bridge

Welcome Home Water Lily Bridge

By DAVID R. CORDER | Daily Sun Senior Writer

The vision of linking residents to shopping, amenities and services Villages-wide has hit another major milestone as the first bridge to cross the Florida Turnpike is now in place.

Motorists traveling on the Turnpike just north of the Okahumpka Service Plaza can’t miss the new gateway — the third of four major bridges to be placed in its permanent home in the community’s southern region.

“It’s often been said you know when you’re in The Villages, and these new bridges are no exception,” said Tracy Morse, vice president of design, The Villages. “You’ll know when you’ve arrived.”

Once completed, the Water Lily Bridge will connect residents to the community on the west side of the Turnpike, landing in the Village De Luna near the Water Lily Recreation Center.

A second Turnpike bridge in the approval stages, called the Southern Oaks Bridge, will connect residents to future amenities in property east of Marsh Bend Trail (formerly County Road 501) and south of Warm Springs Avenue.

Those two Turnpike bridges join the Chitty Chatty Bridge and the Brownwood Bridge already set in place over State Road 44.

“These structures will not only add to the ease of movement throughout The Villages community but they will continue to be a fun, celebratory sense of arrival and departure for years to come,” said Mike Pape, land planner.

Like its sister bridges, the Water Lily Bridge is constructed of corten steel, which weathers to form a rust-like appearance that eliminates the need for painting. It’s designed to be reminiscent of steel train trestle bridges of a bygone era.

“These elements are symbolic of historic town markers and were often utilized to mark important places,” said Ed Plaster, architect. “These impressive structures will serve as both symbolic and functional gateways.”

When completed, the new bridges will make it possible to navigate the community by golf cart from Marion County Road 42 in the north all the way south from Brownwood across State Road 44 and beyond.

They are all still considered working construction sites, and the public is asked to avoid the area for their safety and the safety of workers.

The bridges “give us a glimpse of our future,” said Rep. Brett Hage, R-Oxford, whose District 33 office includes all of The Villages and Sumter County. “It also shows the Morse family’s commitment to Sumter County for the next 20, 25, 30 years.”

The Chitty Chatty Bridge and the Brownwood Bridge are estimated to be open in the coming months. The Water Lilly Bridge is estimated to open early next year. Residents who would like to be among the first to cross any of the three new bridges are invited to enter a random drawing to win the chance to do so at The or any Sales & Information Center.

“Residents tell us all the time how much they enjoy the golf cart lifestyle,” Morse said. “Our vision for full connectivity is all about making sure folks can travel by golf cart anywhere they want in the community. We hope this will be one more reason Villagers are proud to call The Villages home.”

Senior writer David R. Corder can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5241, or

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The Lofts at Brownwood brings all new apartment-style living to The Villages — featuring one, two and three-bedroom open floorplans, with on-site recreation, golf car accessibility to Brownwood Paddock Square, entertainment, dining, shopping and fun! Through your monthly amenity fee, you’ll also have access to all of The Villages’ recreation, amenities and lifestyle our 55+ community offers.

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