Brick streets restoration begins, S. Main Street road closure for bike trail construction
Road construction in Brooksville is quite prevalent, and a brick street restoration project is just beginning. The Good Neighbor Trail connector project started last fall, and the widening of SR50 between Cobb Road and Buck Hope Road began last month. As part of the trail connector project, the overpass over SR 50 is taking shape, and portions of the bike trail have been paved through Tom Varn Park.
The latest leg of the Good Neighbor Trail connector project will close a portion of southbound Main Street between Liberty Avenue and Russell Street beginning May 18 through Aug. 20, according to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The closure will allow crews from the FDOT to move utilities and drainage facilities for the Trail project. Main Street’s northbound lane will remain open to local traffic and for garbage pick-up only, the agency said.
The more than 10-mile Good Neighbor Trail is a multi-use recreational trail that connects Brooksville with the 46-mile Withlacoochee State Trail, which winds through Citrus, Hernando, and Pasco Counties. The Brooksville portion of the Trail was originally the Brooksville branch of the Florida Southern Railway that later became the Atlantic Coast Railroad line from Brooksville to Croom.
“The Brooksville portion of the trail is basically a sidewalk,” said Brooksville Mayor Blake Bell. Brooksville voted in 2017 to allow the trail to go through Brooksville; (the Brooksville segment) is a very small portion of a very large project.”
The trails through Brooksville will fill a gap in the broader Coast to Coast connector project. In Nov. 2021, the first leg of filling a gap in the Coast to Coast connector project was completed, creating a 12-foot wide bike trail from the Suncoast Parkway to Cobb Road and 50.
The Good Neighbor Trail is totally unrelated to the City’s effort to identify Brooksville’s brick streets and remove the asphalt that covers them. However, both projects are happening around the same time. “It’s a project that everyone on the City Council is passionate about,” Blake said. “It’s 100 percent a City of Brooksville project – the Trail is 100 percent an FDOT project.”
In fact, during an April 3 workshop meeting, the City Council inquired if the FDOT would help with the brick streets reveal project.
“They are not in the restoration business; they are in the construction business,” Bell said.
Meanwhile, beginning this month, contractors hired by the city began the process of removing asphalt to reveal brick streets in the city where they have already been identified. “The contractors use a machine that melts the asphalt at high heat and reveals the brick streets underneath,” Bell said. “The City can’t do it (itself) because we don’t have the equipment.”
In a recent Facebook post, Jo-Anne Peck of the Historic Hernando Preservation Society celebrated the beginning of the project.
“Yeah Brick,” the posting read. “What a marvelous sight!” While the brick street project has gotten underway, Bell said that the City is continuing its search to identify where brick streets might be located.
“It’s a process; we’re working to identify the streets,” Bell said. “The brick streets not only convey the feeling we want to have about Brooksville, but over 100 years old, they are more durable and reduce speed in the areas where they exist.”
According to Bell, there is no set date for the completion of the Brick Streets project, but that work will continue into next year.
“Over the next year, a bulk of the streets should be worked on,” he said. The Good Neighbor Trail is expected to be completed in early 2025, according to the FDOT.