Connecting to the Coast to Coast Connector

An initiative by Governor Rick Scott, the Coast to Coast Connector will potentially be a 275 mile paved trail for use by cyclists, skaters and pedestrians, extending from the Gulf of Mexico (St. Petersburg) to the Atlantic Ocean (Titusville). Fourteen existing trails form the Coast to Coast Connector. To be complete, the trail still requires 70 miles of connecting trails that will join seven existing gaps.

On March 22nd, Assistant County Administrator Brian Malmberg presented to the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) five possibilities for trail connectors to bridge the gap between Hernando and Lake counties.

A Viable Alternatives Analysis is underway to decide which of five routes will be the optimal way to connect Hernando county to Lake County’s James A. Van Fleet Trail. The project belongs to Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) District 7, which includes Sumter county. Sumter recommends using one of the northern trail suggestions.

Malmberg agreed with this suggestion, pointing out that because of the location of the Good Neighbor Trail in Northern Hernando county, the trail could be connected to the Withlacoochee State Trail and then be connected to the James A. Van Fleet Trail. The Good Neighbor trail begins at the Brooksville Train Depot Museum, and is currently maintained by Hernando county.

Also being considered are two southern trail connectors coming from Pasco county, which would pass through southeast Hernando county, then through a wide portion of the Withlacoochee State Forest. Lynn Gruber-White, President of the Ridge Manor Property Owners Association asked that these trails be considered for the economic development of Eastern Hernando County, and the promotion of recreational tourism.

In this phase of planning (Viable Alternatives Analysis) ,the locations are approximations of the connector paths and locations. After public meetings have been conducted, and a path is chosen, more exact paths and locations are chosen by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).

Once exact routes are determined then development of the design, the right of way, and construction begins. Construction will most likely be complete in five to six years.

An Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting will be held in Brooksville on May 17th.

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