As you probably know, in April the Sarasota County Commissioners enthusiastically endorsed the plan to extend The Legacy Trail into downtown Sarasota and authorized staff to begin the next steps in the negotiations to purchase the land from the CSX Corporation. Shortly thereafter, it was brought to light that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) was also interested in buying approximately 100 miles of rail corridor in Florida from CSX, including the section that would be The Legacy Trail extension.
Here is the most recent official statement given to us by the County explaining where things stand right now:
FDOT has indicated to CSX that they are interested in purchasing approximately 100 miles of rail corridor throughout the state, which includes the 7.5 mile extension piece of The Legacy Trail. Due to FDOT’s interest in multiple rail corridors, CSX has indicated that they are willing to allow FDOT to complete their due diligence and potentially make an offer prior to engaging in the county’s request to proceed with a cost sharing land appraisal between the Trust for Public Land, CSX and Sarasota County.
Preliminary discussions between Sarasota County and FDOT indicate the states willingness to partner with the county to achieve a mutually beneficial arrangement to implement a transportation multi-modal corridor within these lands. Staff contacted FDOT on September 17, 2015 and they have indicated that discussions with CSX are ongoing. FDOT is in the process of reviewing additional information recently requested and provided by CSX as part of the negotiation and due diligence process. FDOT was unable to provide a tentative timeline for the completion of this review, but agreed to stay in contact with county staff and provide updates as they become available.
Although there are many uncertainties, we at FLT believe that the involvement of FDOT in the process is a positive factor in our effort to extend the trail. Stay tuned!