by Steve Diez, Transportation Planner III
Sunshine, dazzling blue sky and a fresh, cool morning greets you as you remove your bike from its car rack in the trailhead parking lot. Soon you’ll be warmed up and enjoying an invigorating ride, comfortable knowing you’ve got miles of a scenic paved trail before you.
For you and others who love cycling for fun, Florida’s Adventure Coast is ideal. There are many level and gently rolling trails for pleasant bike-friendly options.
Long Term Vision
Such choices are possible thanks to regional collaboration, long-range planning and maximizing funding opportunities. Due to growing focus on local and regional bike trails, the Hernando/Citrus Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), proposes a new Bikeways and Trails Master Plan. The project should take a year; involving public and stakeholder input to ensure maximum understanding and plan coordination.
Much of the project involves the building of connector trails, joining the existing trails into one continuous trail crossing the entire County and the statewide Coast-to-Coast Trail. Florida's Adventure Coast trails are among those funded from statewide SUNTrail legislation, passed by the Florida Legislature two years ago and now being distributed for design and construction of individual sections. The Legislature allocated a total of $44 million to current projects with $25 million per year set aside for eligible SUNTrail projects.
Florida’s Department of Transportation (FDOT) has programmed $1.5 million for the SR50 Connector Trail and $2 million to fund the trail gap between SR 50 and the Good Neighbor Trail, both planned for construction in 2020.
Connecting Trail Networks
The SR 50 Connector Trail, part of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail, will be a 10 to 12 foot wide separate facility that parallels SR 50. Closing another gap – also part of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail – is another project that will extend further east, providing a connection from the SR 50 Connector Trail through downtown Brooksville, meeting up with the existing Good Neighbor Trailhead at Russell Street.
The Good Neighbor Trail continuation from Weatherly Road to the Withlacoochee State Trail currently has an anticipated completion date of early 2018.
Great for Biking
With its climate, gently rolling landscape and natural beauty, Florida is a mecca for bicyclists. Whether for individuals, groups or organized tours, a growing trail network will build on the state’s potential as a cyclist destination. Connecting the many existing regional trails into networks with a unified vision is evident with the Florida Coast-to-Coast Trail, the Cross Florida Greenway Trail, the Heart of Florida Trail and more.
About the Author:
Steve Diez, works for the Hernando/Citrus MPO as a Transportation Planner. His duties include acting as the Bike/Ped Coordinator for Hernando/Citrus counties. This involves the coordination of the Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC), which reviews and formulates the Enhancement Priority list that ranks bicycle and pedestrian related projects for approval by the MPO.
Steve is also involved in the coordination of the Transportation Disadvantaged (TD) program with Mid Florida Community Services, d/b/a Trans-Hernando, Inc.
Steve is the current Chair of the Community Traffic Safety Team (CTST) for Hernando and Citrus counties; which meets on a monthly basis to coordinate and discuss traffic-safety and related issues with a wide range of agencies and groups.