The new protected bike lanes on each side of Ringling Blvd will provide a safe bicycle route from the northern end of The Legacy Trail near Payne park to central downtown Sarasota near the location of the Saturday Farmers Market! The bike lanes will go from Lime Ave. to S. Pineapple Ave. Many thanks to the Sarasota city commissioners for approving this project and to the city staff for their diligent and thorough work to make this happen.
An online survey on the proposal gathered 700 responses, 95% of which supported redesigning Ringling to better accommodate bikes. Dan Ohrenstein, Assistant City Engineer, stated “I would challenge anyone to find an issue in society today that has that much positivity.”
The work is expected to cost $900,000 for design and construction, and to be completed by the end of this year, in time for the opening of The Legacy Trail. A more permanent landscaped design will be considered at a later time.
A historic Ringling train car has been moved into place at the Venice Train Depot today. With the help of numerous donors, the Venice Area Historical Society brought the retired circus train car to the Train Depot campus and is donating it to Sarasota County for viewing by the public.
Additional pictures by Mike Soltis and the Venice Historical Society:
It is incredibly exciting to see the transformation of an abandoned rail corridor into the extension of the Legacy Trail. These recent photos taken at trail end by Culverhouse Nature Park show the contractor has stripped the overgrown vegetation within the construction footprint, and redefined the shape, depth and pitch of the drainage ditch of both sides of the rail bed. Then this huge, articulated mulcher makes quick work of shredding the vegetation in place.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the start of construction of the north Legacy Trail Extension is scheduled for this Thursday July 9 at 10:30 a.m. Attendance at the event is restricted due to Covid-19 concerns, however, everyone can watch via a live event on the Sarasota County Facebook page.
At this time, our community is encouraged to stay close to home and limit their interactions. During these challenging times, we understand the need to get outside, soak up some fresh air and get exercise. When enjoying The Legacy Trail, there are several actions you can take to keep yourself and others safe:
Follow the CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of 6 feet.
Keep single-file when walking or biking
If there are people at a stop station, keep going
If the trailhead looks busy, come another time
Bring your own water so you don’t have to use drinking fountains
Practice “pack it in, pack it out” so you don’t have to use the trash receptacles
Bring hand wipes or sanitizer
And finally, be smart, stay safe and don’t travel far from home. Our hospitals, resources and emergency services are being utilized in other capacities. It’s important to keep yourself safe while recreating.
Sarasota County is closely monitoring the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) is in regular communication with the county Health Department and continues to receive updates related to its operations. Things are changing daily, so for the latest information on COVID-19 in Sarasota County, please visit scgov.net/COVID.
After discussion with management of Sarasota County Parks, FLT has purchased and donated to the county a Stand-On Debris Blower for use on The Trail. Mowing & storms cause The Trail to be littered with debris. This will help to make the trail safer and also help to prevent flat tires.
Check out this video to see this amazing machine in action!
A celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony were held on Friday November 15 to mark the official opening. We hope all trail users will enjoy this new trail amenity sponsored by the Jelks Foundation and Friends of The Legacy Trail. See map here for location.
On your mark…get set…GO! Officials from Sarasota County, City of Sarasota, City of North Port, and other honored guests kicked off the “Race to Completion” of the Legacy Trail with food, speeches and interactive exhibits.
This special event marked the County’s acquisition of the right of way for the Trail extension from the Culverhouse Nature Center, just south of Clark Road, north up to Fruitville Road. Attendees enjoyed a lovely summer morning in Payne Park while receiving the latest information on the property acquisition as well as construction plans.
Sarasota County Commission Chair Charles Hines told the assembled crowd that “the Trail offers a chance to commune with nature, it builds a sense of community, and it honors the rich history of our County… that’s why we voters overwhelmingly approved the bond referendum. It showed us … that [the Trail] is just as important to our community as anything else…It is paramount to our Board to get this project up and running as quickly as possible.”
Sarasota County Director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler added that “Since the passing of the referendum, Sarasota County staff have worked tirelessly – and I really mean tirelessly – to bring the Legacy Trail extension to life…when complete, the extension will create nearly 30 miles of continuous, non-motorized, paved, multi-use trail enhancing connectivity from North Port through Venice to downtown Sarasota and include improvements such as crossings and overpasses at Clark Road and at Bee Ridge, amenities, and increased accessibility.”
Friends of Legacy Trail (FLT) has played an integral part in this process, and we participated in the “Race To Completion” kickoff by sharing information and handouts with attendees. FLT President Louis Kosiba noted that “this is a great day for the Legacy Trail. The County has now acquired the land we need for the extension into downtown Sarasota, and it won’t be too long before Trail users can travel directly from North Port through the Venice Train Depot to Payne Park. Our early vision from way back in 2008 is growing clearer and closer to reality.”
Friends of the Legacy Trail sponsored two tours in May for Sarasota County and City of North Port commissioners to view and experience two alternative routes from the Legacy Trail in Venice to North Port.
As part of the passage
of the referendum, $2 million will be put toward a connector route. Both routes
currently being considered rejoin at the eastern end of Border Road. The
Entering the T. Mabry Carlton Jr. Memorial Reserve and enhancing the existing nine-mile packed-surface South Power Line Trail to Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in North Port.
Continuing along the lightly used paved South Moon Drive and Forbes Trail into Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and Schewe Ranch and creating a new three-mile paved or packed-surface trail to West Price Boulevard in North Port.
While the County has made commendable progress to prepare the bonding documents to secure funding and develop its plans and requirements for design and engineering support to extend the Legacy Trail to Sarasota, progress on route selection for the North Port connection has not been as proactive. For example, there has been no effort to develop a cost analysis on the routes.
In organizing the tour, FLT wanted to bring visibility to and promote dialog on the unique opportunities and challenges with both routes. FLT created an objective list of the pros and cons of each route, which were presented to the commissioners for consideration during the tour. We invited all County and City commissioners, and four participated: County Commissioner Charles Hines rode with City Commissioner Jill Luke on the first tour, while County Commissioner Christian Ziegler rode with North Port Vice Mayor Debbie McDowell on the second tour. We worked with County staff to arrange for the necessary four-wheel-drive vehicle for the rough terrain, and coordinated with park managers from the Carlton Reserve and Deer Prairie Creek Preserve who drove the vehicles and provided valuable insights on park conditions.
Everyone was grateful for the opportunity to get an on-the-ground perspective. Vice Mayor McDowell perhaps said it best: “I am so glad I took the tour…. Seeing the trail path, in person, gave me a unique perspective compared to just a line on a map. THANK YOU.”
FLT will soon be providing the County and City with our recommendations. The County and City will ultimately make the decision, based on costs, environmental impacts, feasibility, and a number of other factors, and there will be public comment periods to inform the communities of their plans. As always, FLT welcomes input from our members and we are in need of volunteers in North Port who can help us enhance and support the connector route. Either one of the routes will provide a beautiful natural experience for cyclists and others.