HOLIDAY — The Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail will soon connect via an extension with three Pasco County Gulf-front parks on Baillies Bluff Road, providing not only access but a sigh of relief for residents who enjoy walking, jogging and biking in the area.
“That sounds great,” said Holiday resident Steve Coser as he walked his dog Fritz in Key Vista Nature Park. “I love to walk my dog here, but I need to come by car. My wife and I also love to bike around here — we put Fritz in a cart and pull him along — but we won’t go down the (Baillies Bluff) road. That’s not safe. We bike through the back roads of the neighborhood across the street to get here.”
A groundbreaking for the project, which is expected be completed sometime next year, took place Feb. 6. It’s being called the Coastal Anclote Trail and will eventually connect the 38.2-mile Pinellas Trail, which ends in Tarpon Springs, to Pasco County’s Key Vista Nature Park, Anclote Gulf Park and Anclote River Park. Running 4.52 miles in length and consisting of a 12-foot-wide asphalt surface, the extension will cost about $3 million and is being funded by the Penny for Pasco program.
“It’s about time. We’ve been waiting about three years for this,” said Holiday resident Richard Jaryna as he gathered with some friends for some fishing last week at Anclote River Park. “I’ve sent in many suggestion cards on this topic.
“I want this for the bicyclists out there. When there’s a pack of 25 or 50 of them on the road, which you see all the time, you simply can’t get around them. A while back I had to help a lady on a bike up from the ditch when she was run off the road. The car just kept going. The driver just left her there.”
The speed limit on Baillies Bluff Road, which is narrow and winding, is 40 mph.
“People go 50, 60, 70, even 80,” Jaryna said. “And it’s going to get even more crowded. They are soon going to build about 600 more houses up the road.”
Most of the trail will run through conservation lands acquired through Pasco County’s Environmental Lands Acquisition and Management Program, known as ELAMP. Several benches will be installed along the path, as will bike racks at parking locations.
Ron and Gail Monchon, snowbirds from New Hampshire who spend winters in New Port Richey, were also delighted to learn of the trail. They enjoy walking on the small path between Anclote Gulf Park and Key Vista Nature Park, but always wanted to be able to go further. A power plant stands between Anclote Gulf Park and Anclote River Park.
“We will use that, for sure,” Ron Monchon said. “We go back and forth on our path and would like to be able to go to all three without having to drive. This is great news.”
For more information, visit CoastalAncloteTrail.com.