by Steve Martin
Thanks to very diligent work by the county commissioners, county staff, and FDOT, the projected schedule for the northern extension has been considerably expedited. It is now estimated that the ground level trail (excluding highway overpasses) will be completed in 2022! (The previous estimate for completion, including overpasses, was December 2024.)
Change of plans: FDOT will now pay for and build the overpasses for Clark and Bee Ridge Roads.
- Previous Plan: FDOT was to give the county $1M for the Clark Road overpass design, and $7.5M in fiscal year 2022-2023 to help with construction of the Phase 1 part of the trail (current northern terminus to Ashton Rd). This meant that Phase 1 construction could not be started until 2023.
- The New Plan: Instead of giving the above $8.5M to the county, FDOT will pay for the design and construction of the overpasses over Clark and Bee Ridge roads. The county will now pay for all construction of the ground level trail. This removes the restriction on when Phase 1 construction can begin. There are several segments to the extension that have been identified and the order in which the segments will be completed will be addressed by the design firm. FDOT does not have a schedule for completing the overpasses at this time.
The county has received approval from the Federal Surface Transportation Board to use the rail corridor as a trail.
The county expects to sign a contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates, Inc. for design of the trail, which will include a study of the cost of routes to North Port, by June 5.
It is anticipated that the county will close on the purchase of rail corridor on or before June 30th.
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