Category Archives: Trail News

Section of Legacy Trail Closed Apr. 18 – 22

Announcement:  Sections of Legacy Trail Will
Be Closed for Utilities Work

Mon. April 18 thru Friday, April 22

The Legacy Trail will be closed at the North Creek Bridge area located at the yellow mile marker LT-7.55 (approximately 6/10 of a mile north of Osprey Junction Trailhead Park and 1 mile south of Central Sarasota Parkway) from Monday, April 18 through Friday, April 22. The trail will reopen Saturday, April 23.

A utilities contractor will be connecting a water main for future community development. The project will require work in a limited space near the bridge with large equipment such as a back hoe, trucks, drilling equipment and sections of pipe.  The force main pipe is located approximately 50’ under the edge of the trail and will require removal of a cross section of Trail. The project should take 4 days.

Fortunately, the new Honore extension will be opening just in time to provide a nice detour.  We’ve all been wanting to try out this new section of Honore, so here’s your chance! The suggested route uses bike lanes on Laurel Road, Honore, and Central Sarasota Parkway to get around the construction area.  This route is shown in yellow in the map below:

Note:  There were some unexpected delays, and Honore may not be open for the first part of the week when The Legacy Trail is closed.

County Back In Conductor Seat For Trail Extension

by Roger Normand

After some 9 months of “nothing new to report,” the month of February brought a fresh wave of rejuvenating good news to extend The Legacy Trail to Payne Park in downtown Sarasota.

The best news was that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) was terminating efforts to acquire the rail corridor from its owner, CSX Railroad, and returning that process back to Sarasota County.

FDOT efforts, begun last spring, were seen by many as a mixed blessing.  It began with word from CSX, not FDOT, that they were ceasing talks with the County amid discussions with FDOT acquiring 100 miles of rail corridor across the state, including The Legacy Trail extension.  FDOT later released a brief statement that their interest was to create multi-modal corridors – typically an urban corridor optimized for short and medium trips using transit lines (light rail, express bus) with an adjacent pedestrian and bicycling path.  Such corridors have been successfully used in a handful of states, according to Rails to Trails Conservancy.  It was considered but not recommended in the March 2015 County commissioned feasibility study to extend The Legacy Trail.

That FDOT has much deeper pockets to acquire the trail and finance construction than the County was viewed by many as a major potential benefit. However, despite periodic requests for updates, FDOT was never forthcoming about their plans.  Would The Legacy Trail extension be tied to time consuming conflicts at other locations?  Spring turned to summer, which begat fall, then winter.  Still no word from FDOT.  

Extension advocates were jubilant when the Sarasota County Commissioners unanimously accepted the Feasibility Study on April 1, 2015, and directed the County Executive to begin discussions with CSX and pursue an independent appraisal of the rail corridor.  All that momentum was surely slipping away behind closed doors in Tallahasee.

Fortunately, the County Commissioners shared the same concerns, prompting one Commissioner to meet with the FDOT Secretary in Tallahassee in early February.  Shortly afterwards, the County confirmed that FDOT “will be terminating their negotiations to acquire the right of way” from CSX.  “That shifts the next steps/negotiations back to Sarasota County for the portion that we are seeking.”

It remains unclear what progress, if any, FDOT made in acquiring any unused rail corridors from CSX. 

The County is now back in the conductors seat for the trail extension.   Hoorah!  The County reaffirmed they and partner The Trust for Public Land would promptly restart discussions with CSX.  Thank you to the County Commissioners for interceding and getting the extension back on track!

Featured photo courtesy of Sarasota County staff.

Tripadvisor Gives The Legacy Trail It’s Certificate of Excellence

by Andrea Seager

Very quietly, without much fanfare, The Legacy Trail has become one of Sarasota’s most important tourist attractions. TripAdvisor.com, one of the world’s largest and most influential travel websites with 375 million monthly visitors has awarded a Certificate of Excellence to Sarasota County’s multi-use Legacy Trail.

Enjoyed by over 120,000 people per year, the trail has been reviewed 335 times with the vast majority of TripAdvisor members granting four or five stars to the 10.6 mile paved path that starts at The Venice Train Depot. Travelers from as far away as Moscow, Jerusalem and London extol the virtues of the flat, easy terrain. Andre D. from Concord, New Hampshire’s comments are typical: “We rented bikes at Real Bikes in Venice right next to the trail. Very reasonable and nice bikes. The trail is fantastic. We had a great ride 20 miles up and back. Plenty of places to rest and get shade. Enjoyable for all levels. Excellent construction of the trail.”

The Friends of The Legacy Trail website includes maps showing parking areas, rest stops, bicycle rentals and a wealth of other information about the Trail. If you haven’t explored it yet, now might be the perfect time to check out Sarasota’s “excellent” Legacy Trail!

OJT House Cleanup

by Mark Malkasian

The County Parks Department has given FLT the green light to work on a proposed plan to remodel the house at Osprey Junction Trailhead (OJT) into a Visitor Center. (map).  The first phase is developing a proposed plan to remodel the house at Osprey Junction Trailhead Park into a Visitor Center. The plan will then be presented to Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources for review and approval.  While the remodel planning wheels are turning for the first phase of the project, we have started an initial cleanup of the landscaping.

On a perfect Tuesday morning, January 19, a team of 18 volunteer members attacked the first round of landscaping improvements at OJT.  Lead ably by Ed Wolfenbarger, the vegetation around the main building that we hope will be home to a future Visitor Center was given a thorough, verging on radical, haircut.

OJT6-500px

We were surprised and pleased to have the former property owners, Mary Ann and Dennis Marlin, join us and enthusiastically contribute. Mary Ann helped in discovering original paths and walkways well hidden under years of detritus.  Dennis repaired and re-activated the long dormant water system in the house. We offer a hearty thank you to them both and surely to our Stalwart 18!

OJT5-260px

More exterior work needs our attention so another volunteer work morning has been scheduled for February 11 from 8:30 to noon.  Again, tools will be provided but feel free to bring your favorite landscaping implements.  Suggested personal items are sunscreen, work gloves and protective clothing.  Water, coffee and snacks will be provided. The house will be open for viewing.

Please contact Mark Malkasian here to confirm participation or if you have questions.

Legacy Park Dedication

See Also:
A Jewel Arises Along The Legacy Trail,” by Roger Normand

Press Release

The Dedication Ceremony for Legacy Park will be held on Monday, February 1, 2016 at 10 a.m. The newly constructed Legacy Park is located at 395 E. Venice Avenue, Venice, FL, next to the historic Venice Train Depot. Legacy Park and the restored train are located at the junction of junction of two multi-use paved trails: the 10.6 mile The Legacy Trail and the 10 mile Venetian Waterway Park (5 miles long on each side of the Intracoastal Waterway).

Legacy Park offers multi-use recreational opportunities. A kayak/canoe launch allows access to the wide expanse of the Intracoastal Waterway as well as the more intimate confines of Hatchett Creek. Opting for the latter, paddlers will feel transported back in time as they travel through a dense canopy of native white, red and black mangrove trees and view other natural Florida landscape features. A two station kayak/canoe wash station provides a quick cleanup at journey’s end. There are pervious parking areas for vehicles and boat trailers. The design provides parking spaces while still allowing water infiltration and reducing surface water runoff into the creek.

A wildlife observation platform built next to Hatchett Creek provides up-close viewing opportunities of creek inhabitants and shoreline wetland restoration habitat. Sheltered picnic pavilions are available along with a public restroom and drinking fountain. A handicap-accessible 1/2 mile asphalt nature trail winds through the park with periodic benches along the trail. Stormwater retention ponds are surrounded by native vegetation provide habitat for wading birds and small mammals while improving the water quality flowing into the creek. Visitors are likely to see a diverse mix of birds such as snowy egrets, great egrets, blue heron, tricolored heron and osprey. Picnic pavilions are also available

The city of Venice acquired the ten acre abandoned industrial cement plant site in 2008 for $7.4 million using funds from the voter-approved one-cent sales tax surcharge and a grant from the Florida Communities Trust. The city developed a comprehensive redevelopment plan in coordination with Sarasota County during the intervening years and demolished all the buildings on the site and restoration of the Hatchett Creek shoreline.   Just over $2 million was spent on design, permitting and construction of the new park using funds from Sarasota County, Park impact Fees; Land and Water Conservation Fund, Recreational Trails and Florida Coastal Management Programs. Future plans include a train themed covered playground and additional landscaping. Sarasota County will assume all future operations and maintenance needs for the city owned Legacy Park though an inter-local agreement.

A Jewel Arises Along the Legacy Trail

by Roger Normand

legacy park 2-672x504A new Legacy Park is about to open next to the historic Venice Train Depot, located at 395 East Venice Avenue in the City of Venice, FL. The restored train depot serves as the junction of two Sarasota County multi-use paved trails: the 10.6 mile Legacy Trail and the 10 mile Venetian Waterway Park (5 miles long on each side of the intracoastal waterway).

Legacy Park offers a slew of multi-use recreational opportunities. A kayak/canoe launch allows access to the wide expanse of the intracoastal waterway as well as the more intimate confines of Hatchett Creek. Opting for the latter, paddlers will feel transported back in time as they travel through a dense canopy of native white, red and black mangrove trees and view other natural Florida landscape features. A two station kayak/canoe wash station provides a quick cleanup at journey’s end.   There are pervious parking areas for vehicles and boat trailers. The design provides parking spaces while still allowing water infiltration and reducing surface water runoff into the creek.

New storm water retention ponds surrounded by native vegetation provide habitat for wading birds and small mammals and will also help improve water quality flowing into the creek. Visitors are likely to see a diverse mix of birds such as snowy egrets, great egrets, blue heron, tricolored heron and osprey.

legacy park 3-672x504A wildlife observation platform built next to Hatchett Creek provides up-close viewing opportunities of creek inhabitants. Sheltered picnic areas dot the area, along with a public restroom and drinking fountain. A handicap-accessible 1/2 mile asphalt nature trail winds through the park.

legacy park 5-672x504The city of Venice acquired the ten acre abandoned industrial cement plant site in 2008 for $7.4 million using funds from the voter-approved one-cent sales tax surcharge and a grant from the Florida Communities Trust. The city developed a comprehensive redevelopment plan in coordination with Sarasota County during the intervening years and demolished all the buildings on the site.  About $2 million was spent on design, permitting and construction of the new park using funds from Sarasota County, Park Impact Fees;  Florida Department of Environmental’s Land and Water Conservation Fund, Recreational Trails Program, and Protection Coastal Management Partnership Programs. Future plans include a train themed covered playground and additional landscaping. Sarasota County will assume all future operations and maintenance needs for the city owned Legacy Park though an inter-local agreement.

The depot already serves as a transit station for the Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) bus station. It also includes a railroad museum with an outdoor caboose set amid picnic benches. Across the still visible remaining railroad tracks lies the Rollins Coakley Railroad Park with its public boat launch to the Intracoastal Waterway and paved trailer parking area. The depot is also the start and finish lines for the annual Tour de Parks bicycle ride sponsored by the Friends of the Legacy Trail.

We are very fortunate that Sarasota County, the City of Venice, and other local communities continue to invest in acquiring, maintaining, and improving a diverse mix of area parks.

Laurel Road Bridge – FDOT Update to Board of County Commissioners 12-8-15

by Steve Martin

On Tuesday December 8th the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) provided an update to the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) on the plan to build a Legacy Trail bridge over Laurel Road. The meeting was held at the Robert L. Anderson Administration Center in Venice, FL. Ryan Weeks, Project Manager with FDOT made the presentation.

To view the full presentation, click here to go to the county web site page, and then space down and click on Item 66.

Key Points of the Presentation and Discussion:

  • Construction is expected to begin in Fall 2016.
  • Estimated construction cost: $2M to $2.8M depending on bids.
  • The Trail will remain open and connected during construction using detours around the construction zone.
  • New design and renderings of the bridge look much better than ones in the original concept. 
  • The new renderings do not show landscaping so that just the bridge appearance could be evaluated.  Commissioners expressed the thought that landscaping would help the appearance and would make the bridge look more like the Chain of Lakes bridge that was originally presented as an example that was favorably received.
  • The bridge will be similar to the Chain of Lakes bridge but not exactly the same.  The Chain of Lakes bridge uses traditional pile and beam construction, whereas the new bridge will use a relatively new construction technique call the  Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil-Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS).  Use of the new technique allows considerable cost savings.
  • There was concern that walkers and bicyclists might choose to not use the bridge and instead cross at street level below the bridge.  To discourage this there will be curbs along the road instead of a smooth transition.  Commissioners strongly recommended that railing also be built to discourage crossing at street level.
  • A new cross walk will be constructed at the Mission Valley light on Laurel Road.  This will provide a route across Laurel Road for people who are unable to cross using the bridge.

A comparison of the Chain of Lakes bridge and the most recent rendering of the proposed  bridge are shown below:

Rendering of Proposed Bridge over Laurel Road
Rendering of Proposed Bridge over Laurel Road
Chain of Lakes Bridge
Chain of Lakes Bridge

 

[   See: Updated Renderings for Laurel Road Overpass    ]

The proposed bridge on Laurel Road will use the  Geosynthetic Reinforced Soil-Integrated Bridge System (GRS-IBS).  This is a relatively new construction technique that should save considerable money over older techniques.  The following video gives a good description of the technical details of this system.

 

House at Osprey Junction Trailhead

ojt-house-500px
Have you ever seen this house and wondered about it?   It sits just off The Legacy Trail at Bay Street (map).  Wouldn’t it be a great place for a rest area for everyone using The Legacy Trail?   The house is located on the SW corner of the 10 acre property that was purchased by the County in 2008 and officially opened as Osprey Junction Trailhead (OJT) in 2013.  It has been used by the county as a storage site for the parks department.

Recently, Chuck Butterfield the FLT President approached the County Parks Department and was given a green light to work on a proposed plan to remodel that house into a Visitor Center.  A brain storming session yielded ideas for the Visitor Center which included a snack bar, gift shop, volunteer staffing for information and handouts, screened porch rest area, public meeting/party rooms, bike rental/repair shop, bike safety education classes/bike rodeos, Ambassador Patrol and Surrey Bike Ride Headquarters and Park Staff office.

Jerry Droll, David Zimmerman and Mark Malkasian have volunteered to work on the Project Team. The first phase is developing a proposed plan to remodel the house at Osprey Junction Trailhead into a Visitor Center. The plan will then be presented to Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources for review and approval. Architects are being solicited and preliminary design plans are being discussed. If you have an interest in working on this project please contact Chuck Butterfield:  gulfman8@comcast.net

OJT Visitor Center Project
ojt-plan-500px

Updated Renderings for Laurel Road Overpass

From_Road_672pxAerial_672px

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has provided the county with these updated design concept renderings.  The new design includes a color change from the previous version and incorporates proposed signage which was developed with input from FLT and the community.

This information was provided to us by Patrick Lui, Sarasota County Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Coordinator