FLT marches in the Sarasota 19th Annual Holiday Parade
FLT marches in the Sarasota 19th Annual Holiday Parade
Everybody loves a parade. FLT members sprouted reindeer antlers and joined with some 4,000 other participants to march in the 19th Annual Sarasota Holiday Parade held on 6 December 2014. Carrying the “Extend the Legacy Trail” banner and pedaling both the 6-person and 2-person Surreys decked out in holiday regalia, FLT members marched passed thousands more people lining both sides of Main St. ‘Twas a beautiful, mild Saturday evening, and there were no reports of snowbirds missing the white powdery stuff on the ground.
We had a record turnout at the January 2015 FLT meeting, held for the first time at Bentley’s Boutique Hotel in Osprey FL. Though some FLT members miss meeting at the Oscar Scherer Park for its rustic atmosphere and proximity to The Legacy Trail, the amenities and physical space at Bentley’s hotel are far superior. Thank you to Bentley’s for offering to host our monthly meetings!
Doug Hattaway of the Trust for Public Land is our guest speaker for the 3 February meeting. TPL is a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect lands as parks and open spaces. The Draft Feasibility Study to extend The Legacy Trail to downtown Sarasota, now being reviewed by Sarasota County Staff, pegs the construction cost at about $15 million, but offers no estimate on land acquisition costs or financing opportunities. TPL was instrumental in negotiating the purchase of the existing 10.6 mile segment of The Legacy Trail, and has begun discussions to acquire use of the proposed 8.6 mile extension.
Patrick Lui, the new Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Trails Coordinator for Sarasota County, was unable to speak at the January 2015 meeting. He is our guest speaker for the 3 March FLT meeting. Patrick will talk about his new job along with the County’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan.
The monthly meeting is held at Bentley’s Hotel, located at 1660S Tamiami Trail, Osprey, FL 34229. It is just north of and across the street from Oscar Scherer State Park.
[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
[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.
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.
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.
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.
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!