Pinellas News

Coast to Coast trail project to get nearly $16 million

Nearly $16 million in funding this year will go toward the Coast to Coast Connector Project, Gov. Rick Scott’s office announced Monday.

The project aims to link existing portions of trails to create a continuous 250-mile route from the Atlantic to the Gulf of Mexico, according to the Tallahassee-based Florida Greenways and Trails Foundation.

The Gulf Coast end of the connector is the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail. Of the $15.9 million total to be invested by the Florida Department of Transportation, $3.9 million will be directed toward Pinellas County to extend a portion of trail at the East Lake and Keystone road intersection north to the Pinellas-Pasco county line.

The rest of the funding is spread out among 10 other projects, including $460,000 to Pasco County to further extend the trail from the Pinellas line to north of State Road 54.

Pinellas County’s $3.9 million portion is the second largest sum appropriated, behind the $5.7 million going to two projects in Brevard County on the Atlantic Coast end of the Connector.

A press release on the governor’s website states that the $15.9 million is in addition to the more than $26 million that has already been invested by the Florida Department of Transportation for the Connector project over the next five years.

“This $15.9 million dollar investment will help to complete 11 sections of the Coast to Coast Connector which will help to bring more tourists to our state, and create jobs for families in our state,” Scott was quoted as saying in the release.

An estimated 75 percent of the Connector is already developed and open to the public or funded for construction.

There are nine other long-distance trail corridors throughout the state, and the Coast to Coast Connector is a “state priority in the 2013-17 Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan,” according to the release. Eleven Central Florida metropolitan planning organizations signed a joint resolution last summer making the trail project a regional priority.

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