U.S. Representative Buchanan Tours The Legacy Trail

admin-ajax.php-8Congressman Vern Buchanan (fifth from the left), city officials from St. Petersburg, and members of the Trust for Public Lands (TPL) recently met at the north end of the Legacy Trail. The group rode the entire length of The Legacy Trail from Culverhouse Nature Park Trailhead to the Venice Train Depot and back. During the ride they viewed features of the Legacy Trail and discussed its eight mile extension to downtown Sarasota. Congressman Buchanan is an avid cyclist and a strong supporter of efforts to extend The Legacy Trail. The City of St. Petersburg is seeking an extension of the Pinellas Trail, and TPL is working on The Legacy Trail and the Pinellas Trail extensions to acquire the railroad right-of-way. For more information click the Trail Extension tab on the left.

 

Sarasota Manatee Bicycle Club Donates $2,000

admin-ajax.php-7The Friends of The Legacy Trail (FLT) received a $2000.00 donation in May, 2014 from the Sarasota Manatee Bike Club (SMBC) toward the Legacy Trail Extension Campaign.  Pictured left to right are SMBC President Bud Gaunce, SMBC members Mike Hart, Patty Riley, Edie Perkins, Bob DiSabatino, Jim Schneck and FLT Extension Campaign Chair Bruce Dillon.

Tour de Parks Cycling Event, 22 March 2015

Come ride the Tour de Parks 2015 on 22 March, 2015

Here’s a great early spring 2015 cycling opportunity that also supports a great cause – ride the sixth annual Tour de Parks 2015 on Sunday, 22 March. We hope to exceed last year’s record 635 riders who pedaled 15, 37, or 62 mile routes along The Legacy Trail and through many Sarasota County Parks. It’s a ride, not a race, so pick one of the distance and start training! All three routes begin and end at the historic Venice Train Deport in Venice, FL. The $40 registration fee includes a T-shirt, breakfast, lunch, rest stops stocked with snacks, beverage, rest rooms, and SAG support.  All proceeds support The Legacy Trail extension/enhancements efforts. For more details and a printable registration, see the Tour de Parks Tab on the Left. You can also register on-line at Active.com.

Trail Safety Day 28 Feb, 10 am to 1 pm

FLT is joining with the Sarasota Parks, Recreation & Natural Resources Division and the Sheriff’s Office to promote safe and courteous use of non-motorized multi-use trails like The Legacy Trail. The is a family friendly event, and parents are encouraged to bring their children. Free children’s bicycle helmets and fittings will be available. Osprey Junction Trailhead is located at 936 E. Bay St, Osprey, FL. For more information, see the flyer at the events tabs.

Trail Extension to Downtown Sarasota

Feasibility Study Completed

[March 2015] After several months of review by the Sarasota County staff, the Legacy Trail Extension Feasibility Study is now completed. The study recommends “that the County proceed with the design and construction of the Legacy Trail Extension using the rails-to-trails option with the purchase of the rail corridor.” Cardno, Inc., the study authors, estimated the construction cost of $16.8M including environmental cleanup. The full Legacy Trail Feasibility Study – Final. (without appendices) is available for review and download.  Caution:  this is a large, 28 MB file.

Trail Extension Brochure

[January 2015]  FLT has prepared a Legacy Trail Extension Brochure.  It contains trail maps, a summary of the benefits, and actions you can take to support bringing this multi use, non-motorized trail to downtown Sarasota.

Draft Feasibility Study Completed

Larry Mau of Cardno TBE discusses the draft Feasibility Study at a FLT meeting
Larry Mau of Cardno TBE discusses the draft Feasibility Study at a FLT meeting

[December 2014] We’ve taken another significant step forward in the vision to extend The Legacy Trail to the heart of downtown Sarasota. Sarasota County had awarded a Feasibility Study contract to Cardno TBE in March 2014. Larry Mau, Brach Manager of Sarasota Cardno office, provided an overview of the results of the draft Feasibility Study at the 2 December 2014 FLT meeting, just prior to delivering the draft report to the County.

Proposed trail terminus at Payne Park
Proposed trail terminus at Payne Park

Perhaps the two most important outcomes of the feasibility study are: (1)there are no unexpected major barriers to extend the trail along the existing rail corridor; (2) to recommend extending the trail to the center of the east side of the 29 acre Payne Park, the symbolic center of downtown Sarasota, located at the intersection of South School Avenue and Shopping Lane.

The study was initially delayed this spring while Cardno and Sarasota County sought permission and paid a permit fee to Seminole Gulf Railway, the leaseholder of the rail corridor from CSX Corporation, before gaining access to begin the site assessment.

view of east-west leg
view of east-west leg

The site visit found a number of siding and spur lines along the primary path. Many areas of the north-south leg of the corridor will require removing overgrown vegetation and regrading drainage ditches along the side of the rail line. In contrast, the east-west leg is fairly wide open and will require less work. There are two rail trestles in the corridor. Both are in good condition as are the steel rails, but many areas of the rail ties are substantially deteriorated.

The study identified CSX as the near sole exclusive landowner, though there appears to be a few areas of encroachment within the 100 foot right of way, including landscaping from abutting homeowners.

Trail must cross 8-lane wide Clark Road
Trail must cross 8-lane wide Clark Road

There are thirteen roadway crossings, some where the rail crossing on the roadway is in good condition, and others not. The study looked at road traffic volume, land configuration, and sight distances at these intersections. There are four major, heavy volume intersections at Clark, Beneva, Tuttle and Bee Ridge. To minimize the initial construction cost, the study assumes deferring building trail overpasses in favor of signage, traffic signals, and safe harbors in the middle of these intersections. The installed costs of these measures were not offered. Two pre-fabricated bridges are required to carry the trail over two Philippi Creak canals: an estimated 150 foot crossing north of Bahia Vista; the other a 75 foot crossing west of Beneva Road.

Cardno looked at two trail design options: retain the rails with an adjacent trail, or replace the rails with a trail. Cardno concludes either option is feasible and there is little benefit to retain the rails. The study proposes two types of trails: (1) a combined 14 foot wide trail consisting of a 6 foot wide pedestrian path and an 8 foot wide cycling/roller blading path; (2) a 16 foot wide trail double trails consisting of a six wide path for pedestrians and a ten foot wide path for bicycle/roller blading. The double or separated segments would combine in a single path within 65 feet of intersections.

The study proposes shelters spaced one mile apart, trail heads with parking spaces every two miles, and SCAT bus transit connection points.

There was some discussion on the extent of possible environmental contamination along the rail corridor. Larry noted than no obvious areas were noted in the assessment. A more detailed environmental sampling and analysis would be required to confirm this assumption.

The draft report was still under review by Cardno, and Larry was not able at the meeting to offer any land acquisition or construction estimates.

The current terminus at Culverhouse Park
The current terminus at Culverhouse Park

Cardno submitted the draft report to Sarasota County on 10 December, with a final report expected by mid-February 2015. Sarasota County staff will now begin to review the draft report. The final report, along with County staff analysis and recommendations, will be presented to the Sarasota County Commissioners in the next few months. A word of caution – this is a feasibility study subject to changes.

Stay tuned for details on the date and time for any public hearings, and how you can lend your voice to shape the outcome!