Category Archives: Trail News

Trail Updates – November 2018

Updates from The Trail

Everyone is asking about the two construction projects along the trail. I think we are in the home stretch!

The Laurel Pedestrian Overpass should be open to users by the end of November. This doesn’t mean the entire bridge project will be complete, as they will be rehabbing the area on the ground where the detours run. The next step in the project will be installing the roll cage on the top of the bridge. Laurel Road will also have a few nighttime closures in the beginning of November.

Bay Street Extension is still scheduled to wrap up sometime in November. I don’t have a specific date. Please use caution and go slow over the intersection as this is still a construction area. Remember, eventually this will be a signaled intersection that will have cars passing through, so take your time. I’m not sure if you’ve seen, but the water fountain at OJT has been installed. There’s one more step needed before it’s “live”, but it should be up and running soon.

Thank you all for your patience with the construction these past months!

Megan Eidel
Trails Coordinator
Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources
Email: meidel@scgov.net

Bridge Photo by Darryl Lang

New Sidewalk Coming to Bay Street

by Todd Logan

The popular Osprey Junction Trailhead will soon reopen with the completion of the Bay Street extension to Honore Ave. Palmer Ranch residents will have a new way to reach the trail, complete with bike lanes and a multi-use pathway. One downside, however, is the lack of bike and pedestrian infrastructure on existing Bay Street between the Legacy Trail and U.S. 41. This sleepy narrow street is about to get busy!

A group of Osprey residents, alarmed by impending safety issues from increased Bay Street traffic, decided to do something about it. They raised the issue multiple times before the County Commission. They met with County staff. They engaged their fellow residents in the area. The county quickly agreed to re-stripe the road, add signage, and paint “sharrows” on the street. But a pathway or bike lanes were considered cost prohibitive.

The group, organized as COTS, the Coalition for Osprey Transportation Safety, pressed on. Persistence paid! Commissioners eventually directed staff to find a creative solution. They did. Last week, following a public hearing, the Commission agreed to allow a developer on Englewood’s River Road to construct a Bay Street sidewalk in lieu of their obligation to build a sidewalk adjacent to their new development on River Road, which would connect to nothing and be replaced when the road is widened.

With this agreement, a 5-foot wide sidewalk will now be built along the north side of Bay Street between the Legacy Trail’s Osprey Junction Trailhead and Old Venice Road, offering a safer route for everyone. Completion is expected by February 2019.

Trail Updates – October 2018

Updates from The Trail

by Megan Eidel

Season is upon us!  And I’m sure as people trickle back down south, they will notice changes along The Legacy Trail.

The Laurel Pedestrian Overpass and Bay Street Extension project are moving along. We will see them start to wrap up as we move into fall.

We will be doing sporadic tree work with arborists along to trail the next couple of weeks. When you see work happening on the trail, make sure to slow down and use caution.

Interested in volunteering on the trail? Feel free to reach out to learn about our opportunities!

 

Megan Eidel
Trails Coordinator
Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources
Email: meidel@scgov.net

Trail Updates – August/September 2018

Updates from The Trail

by Megan Eidel

We’ve been keeping busy with maintenance on The Legacy Trail.
Last week, contractors removed a small section of Brazilian pepper just north of the 41 pedestrian overpass. In addition to this, we are working on getting a few benches sand blasted and powder coated.

Next week we will see the start of concrete repair work along both sides of the Venetian Waterway Park. Go slow and use caution, and you may need to go around the project areas. We are also getting our ADA parking areas repainted on 8/27 along the Venetian Waterway Park.

If all goes as planned, in a few weeks we will see the new water fountain at Osprey Junction Trailhead. Big thank you to Friends of The Legacy Trail and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County for making that happen!

We are continuing to work on placing material along the shoulder of the trail, and will be picking back up September 11. We are always looking for new volunteers! Trail Ambassadors, Trail Stewards, Surrey Peddlers…interested? Reach out and we can find the best match for your interests!

Megan Eidel
Trails Coordinator
Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources
Email: meidel@scgov.net

Jelks Family Stop Station and Learning Center

The Jelks Family Foundation Donates $22K to FLT

The donation will help sponsor a beautiful new landscaped stop station and learning center to be located in the grassy area just north of the train trestle adjacent to Oscar Scherer State Park.  FLT will also contribute funds for this project.

From Howard Jelks, Director of the Foundation, “Our family is very honored to participate in creating a place where folks using The Legacy Trail can learn about the railroads and native plant communities around them.  Dr. Allen Jelks, Sr. is very active in railroading circles — both in remembering the past and promoting rail travel in the future.  The late Dr. Mary Jelks was an energetic environmental activist who inspired others with her love and passion for natural plant communities”.

We look forward to adding another great amenity to the trail.  Thank you Jelks Family Foundation and all FLT donors who help make projects like this possible.

Here is the concept plan for the new rest facility:

The Fate of the Extension Rests with County Taxpayers

by Roger Normand

Without opposition, and amid a large contingent of yellow shirted Friends of Legacy Trail supporters, the Sarasota Board of County Commissioners (BCC) voted unanimously March 14th on a resolution to include a bond referendum on the regular November 6 ballot to extend the Legacy Trail.

If approved by county voters, the referendum would allow the county to borrow up to $65 million to buy another 6.5 miles of unused rail corridor (including spur) to extend the trail to Payne Park and Fruitville Road in the city of Sarasota. The referendum includes funds to allow the county to build the trail – including the portion to Ashton Road purchased by the County in December; trail overpasses at heavily trafficked intersections at Clark and Bee Ridge roads; parking, restrooms and water fountains; and provide funds to better connect the city of North Port to the Legacy Trail.

A key provision: UP TO $65 million.Carolyn Brown, the County’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources, told the commissioners that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had included $7.5M SUN Trail funds in their 2022/2023 draft work plan, pending approval in June 2018.  She also said the County had requested another $4.2 million in SUN Trail funds for FDOT to build a trail overpass at Clark Road.  Florida’s SUN Trail program provides $25 million per year for trail construction across the state.  She indicated that any funds received would reduce the amount of bonding.

While $65 million is a large amount – the county estimates it at .08 mil in the ad valorem millage rate – it would amount to an annual tax increase of $16.00 per $200,000 real estate property valuation for 20 years.  We believe that the collaboration of the county, the MPO, city governments and FLT representing the community provide a compelling case for securing SUN Trail and other potential funds that will reduce that amount.

Are the permanent benefits of extending the Legacy Trail – safety for trail users and motorists, enhanced quality of life and property values, opportunities to connect community trails to the Legacy Trail, support for the Safe Routes to School National Initiative , and non-motorized connections to area attractions, worth the cost of dinner once a year at an inexpensive area restaurant?  We think so!  FLT and our partners will continue to engage, inform and convince residents that the Legacy Trail extension is a sound investment in our community.

FLT would like to thank the Commissioners for their action, and thank all of our supporters and trail users who have gotten us to this point.

A rousing 3-day Active Mobility Fest

by Roger Normand

Three events.  Three locations.  Three consecutive days.  A trio of music. food, and vendors.  Five organizations.  All sharing an active mobility theme.  What at weekend!  A big thank you to whoever scheduled three days of spectacularly beautiful Sarasota weather with lots of blue sky, sunshine, and comfortable temps.

Sarasota County led the festivities with the 10th Anniversary Celebration of the opening of the Legacy Trail at an event Friday at Laurel Park in Nokomis.  Board of County Commissioner Chair Nancy Detert commemorated the occasion, with Doug Hattaway of the Trust for Public Land recognizing individuals who championed the effort.

The Sarasota/Manatee Metropolitan Planning Organization and the City of Sarasota held a Roll and Stroll event Saturday at Payne Park in downtown Sarasota.  Along with promoting cycling/walking, participants were asked to try one of three routes less than two miles long from Payne Park to connect to the Sarasota waterfront and access the Barrier Islands.  While survey data is still being accumulated, it appears the Oak Street route is the clear favorite among participants over the Ringling and Main Street routes.   The latter two featured many businesses but gathering congestion, while Oak street traversed a classic old Florida residential neighborhood leading to Selby Gardens and onto a panoramic vista of Sarasota bay along a multi use regional trail.

The Sarasota/Manatee Bicycle Club and Friends of the Legacy Trail again joined with new sponsor the Trust for Public Land Tour de Parks.  A record number of riders participated Sunday in the 20, 35 and 62 mile scenic routes, fueled by breakfast from First Watch, and lunch by Mattison’s.  Event pics are available for viewing here.

It’s Official! Legacy Trail Extension Referendum Now on Fall General Election Ballot

Carolyn Brown, head of Sarasota County’s Department of Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources, addresses the County Commissioners about The Legacy Trail Extension. The Commissioners unanimously approved including a referendum on the trail extension funding in the November general election.

Click here for video of Carolyn Brown’s presentation to the county commissioners on the funding referendum.

Click here for Herald-Tribune article.

 

FDOT Proposes $7.5M for Legacy Trail Extension

by Roger Normand

Just as we were publishing the previous newsletter we learned that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) had included $7.5M in its 2022 – 2023 work plan to support actual construction of the Legacy Trail extension to Ashton Road.  This is the fruit of several years of efforts by the County, the MPO, FLT and other supporters to secure Florida SUN Trail funds.  (Florida provides $25M per year for trail building efforts across the state).

A BIG “THANK YOU” TO FDOT.  This is a vote of confidence in the County plans, since FDOT took this action before the County actually took title to the land.  Though scheduled later than desirable, funding can be accelerated if the construction is “shovel ready” and other projects are delayed.

We believe FDOT’s commitment underscores our view that the County’s providing the first funds for the extension will attract other governmental and private funds.