Author Topic: Pedaling through 5 counties - 262 mile bike trail  (Read 1279 times)

Jason

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Pedaling through 5 counties - 262 mile bike trail
« on: September 23, 2008, 05:53:48 PM »
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Pedaling through 5 counties

Officials back a 262-mile trail in hopes of drawing visitors without cars

By PETER GUINTA   |   More by this reporter  |  peter.guinta@staugustine.com   |   Posted: Tuesday, September 23, 2008 ; Updated: 1:14 AM on Tuesday, September 23, 2008

When Ponce de Leon sailed by La Florida, he looked into the sky from his ship's bridge and spotted something strange -- the white vapor trail of the Space Shuttle.

Of course that didn't really happen, but officials from five coastal counties want tourists and visitors to imagine a strong visual connection between those two historic moments by creating the longest bike route in the Southeast.

U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, and District 20 state Rep. Bill Proctor, R-St. Augustine, joined the county delegations Monday to sign a joint agreement that a 260-mile bike and walking trail will be completed by 2013.

They used the same white quill pens that Ponce might have used to record in his ship's log. To provide an even stronger visual connection, a re-enactor dressed like a conquistador and another wearing a full space suit stood by the signing table.

Putnam County's Herb Hiller, of the East Coast Greenway Alliance, helped put this alliance together.

"We want that trail fully off-road and paved by (the state's birthday)," he said. "It could bring a half-million visitors per year on bicycles and walking, not in cars."

The total cost for the trail loop has not been determined yet, officials said.

But a Volusia County official said that if a half-million visitors all rode the entire 262-mile loop, that would be the equivalent of 70 million gallons of gasoline.

St. Johns County Commission Chair Tom Manuel said, "This will connect our communities."

He added that the spark plug on the commission for this project was Vice Chair Cyndi Stevenson, who worked several years to make sure this project and other bike trails became a reality.

"Without her, this wouldn't have happened," Manuel said.

Stevenson, attending with her husband Henry, said, "My husband and I are bicyclists. I'm delighted to be part of this today."

The Florida Wildflower Foundation will be involved to emphasize the wildflowers Ponce de Leon saw then, Stevenson said.

Mica said the project is a joint county, state and federal effort.

"I see projects all over the nation," Mica said. "But very few times do you see the crossing of jurisdictional boundaries that you see today."

He said that next week, Congress will meet to establish federal transportation policies for the nation.

"I see a cooperative spirit and effort here," he said. "We have a lot more to do, but it's all working together."

Hiller said copies of the cooperative agreement between the counties, as well as seeds from Florida wildflowers, will be flown into space on the next shuttle launch, then presented to each of the participating county commissions.

Truman Scarborough, a Brevard County commissioner, said the combination of the first European landing and the first step for man on the moon "represents the spirit of mankind that is represented no where else."

Brevard's 11-mile portion is expected to cost $8 million to develop and would include drainage, landscaping and right of way improvements, according to a Sept. 20 story in Florida Today newspaper.

Milissa Holland, a Flagler County commissioner, said they had already developed a route along State Road A1A, but "we primarily want the areas that we need to connect the north and south parts. We're still working on it."

Hiller said this loop will one of the "foremost features" of the 2013 birthday party.

"This was the first project ready to go (for that event)," he said. "This trail will be the centerpiece of an international celebration."

Off-road information

* The five counties signing the agreement are St. Johns, Putnam, Volusia, Brevard and Flagler.

* Trail length: 262 miles.


* Some called it the "St. Johns River to the Sea Loop," "The Conquistadors to Astronauts Greenway," "La Florida Trail," or the "First Coast to the Space Coast Loop," among other suggestions.

* St. Augustine is its northernmost point. It roughly follows State Road 207 to Palatka, drops south to Orange City and DeBary, east to Sanford, Mims and Titusville, then north to Port Orange, Daytona Beach, Palm Coast and St. Augustine.

* The trail also will connect to internal trails of cities and counties along the route.

* The first 3.2 mile phase of the loop was completed earlier this year. The trail entrance is off State Road 207, just west of Interstate 95.

* For information on the trail, call Bill Zeits of the Recreation and Parks Department at 209-0333.

* From Nov. 15 to Nov. 22, Bike Florida will launch a 25-rider inaugural bike tour along the trail's eventual route. For details, call Bike Florida Program Director Hope Howland-Cook at (352) 244-0062.

Driven1

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Re: Pedaling through 5 counties - 262 mile bike trail
« Reply #1 on: September 23, 2008, 08:25:33 PM »
very cool...if i'm still down here i will be on that in 2013.

Jason

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Re: Pedaling through 5 counties - 262 mile bike trail
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2008, 11:00:06 AM »
I thought you would like the idea.

I would suggest a minimal usage fee for the trail though to help with maintenance.