Now that the referendum has passed, the next steps are for the county to purchase the rail corridor, design the trail, and begin construction. The following very preliminary timeline information is based on a presentation by Carolyn Brown, then head of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources department, to the Board of County Commissioners on March 14, 2018. Over the next few months county staff will doubtless be refining the plan and this page will be updated as we get more information.
At the 1/15/19 regular meeting of the Board of County commissioners, the commissioners and staff expressed desire to move forward quickly with the project by completing sections of the trail before the bridges are built. This would allow many neighborhoods to start enjoying the use of sections of the trail near them.
In the latest plan the surface level trail will be financed and built by the county and the overpasses over Clark and Bee Ridge Roads will be financed, designed, and built by FDOT (more info …).
Commissioners have also stated that work on the North Port connector should have the highest priority for initial development.
June 4, 2019 – Sarasota County sold a portion of the bonds to pay for the railroad land and initial design costs via a competitive process to the financial institutions that provided the county the lowest true interest cost. The financial institutions and brokers involved in the sale include Raymond James, Fidelity, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Ziegler, Advisors Asset Management and Ramirez.
June 5, 2019 – The Sarasota County Commission authorized the county administrator to execute a contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates for the design and engineering of the Legacy Trail Extension Project after bond signing.
June 28, 2019
- Sarasota County bond signing was completed,
- County completed closing on acquisition of the Phase 2 rail corridor,
- Design contract was signed with Kimley-Horn and Associates, with 30 percent of the first segment design plans to be completed by Sept. 12 and 100 percent completed by March 5, 2020
- Initial design meeting between county and Kimley-Horn,
- BIG DAY!!
- The county has selected Jon F. Swift, Inc. as the project’s construction manager and will begin negotiations. The contract is planned to go before the county commission later this summer.
- In July, FDOT made the official change to the work program to construct overpasses at Clark and Bee Ridge Roads and a construction schedule should become available soon.
July 2020 – Additional bonds are issued to pay for construction. Construction begins on ground-level segments of the extension into downtown Sarasota (see map below). The order in which the segments will be built will be determined by the design firm.
Sometime in 2022 – Ground-level Trail Completion!
Shortly Thereafter – Completion of the Clark Road and Bee Ridge Road overpasses. With the recent realignment of responsibilities, FDOT will be responsible for building the overpasses. They are now engaged in preliminary budgeting and design work and there is no estimate for a completion date at this time. The overpass at Clark and McIntosh roads will be particularly complex because the overpass will now be part of the project to straighten McIntosh Road at this intersection.
Connector to North Port
Selected North Port Connector Route
On October 2, Sarasota County and the City of North Port held a joint commission meeting to review the plans for the Legacy Trail connector to North Port. Sarasota County Parks, Recreation, and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler outlined the three routes under consideration (one through the Carlton Reserve and two through Deer Prairie Creek Preserve). She explained that a comprehensive environmental impact assessment had recently been conducted, taking into account water flow, impacts to wildlife, and other factors. The county then determined that a route in Deer Prairie Creek Preserve that parallels I-75 and then heads south to intersect with West Price Boulevard would be the favorable route for a paved Legacy Trail–like experience (see map above). Ultimately all three routes will be available but the other two are natural-surface trails.
The connector route from the Legacy Trail itself will start on the trail in Nokomis and run east along Florence Street, Edmondson Road, Border Road, and South Moon Drive (a mix of roads, bike lanes, sidewalks, and multi-use trails) until it connects to Forbes Trail and on into Deer Prairie Creek Preserve. A map can be seen here.
Commissioners from the city and county reached a consensus on their support for this route with North Port Vice Mayor Debbie McDowell describing the route’s natural beauty and saying it would be an asset to the community. County staff made a follow-up presentation to the residents of North Port on October 15, informing them of the new developments and taking into consideration their feedback.