[Initially posted March 2014] The vision to extend The Legacy Train from it’s current terminus at Culverhouse Nature Park on McIntosh Road 8 miles north to downtown Sarasota has taken a giant leap forward with the beginning of a Feasibility Study. Sarasota County awarded the study on 14 March 2014 to Cardno TBE, an international infrastructure and environmental services company with offices throughout the U.S., including here in Sarasota. Cardno TBE is no stranger to this task, having studied building multi-use trails elsewhere, and managed construction of the two existing bridges spanning Dona Bay and Roberts Bay on The Legacy Trail.
Larry Mau, Branch Manager of the Sarasota office of Cardno TBE, provided an overview of the feasibility study at the April 2014 meeting of the Friends of The Legacy Trail. CSX owns the railroad right of way, and has leased the land to Seminole Gulf Railroad. The notional path extends the existing trail from the current terminus at Culverhouse Nature Park in a straight line along the rail corridor north to Fruitville Road, where it would hook west to Payne Park, then turn north and terminate at Ringling Blvd.
The study is expected to last about six months, with half that time gathering data, performing technical analyses, and mapping the corridor. The study is expected to conclude by December 2014 with a final report and cost estimate to be presented to the Sarasota County Commissioners.
The study will analyze the existing railroad corridor and consider aspects of extending the trail, including:
- Whether to retain the tracks and construct an adjacent trail, or remove the existing railroad tracks and replace them with a hard surface trail bed.
- Need for bridges over waterways and at roadway intersections.
Physical properties of the corridor, such as soils, existing utilities.
- Trail width (the existing trail is 12 feet wide), and consider the need to separate cyclists from pedestrians, particularly in the more congested downtown area.
- Property ownership along the corridor.
- Storm water management, including water retention ponds and wetlands.
- Environmental site assessment, including the potential impact on threatened or endangered species.
- Historical and cultural concerns.
- Need for trail links to nearby schools, parking, SCAT bus service.
- Number and location of shelters.
Stayed tuned for further updates!