Friday, July 18, 2008

Update On Connector Trail

I was among five speakers who addressed the Hillsborough County Commission last night and asked the commissioners during the budget hearing to earmark $12 million to complete a 7-mile connector trail between the Upper Tampa Bay Trail and the Suncoast Trail. If completed, that continuous trail would be the longest continuous trail in the state of Florida, beating out the 46-mile Withlacoochee Trail.

Other speakers were Ellen Pierson, Jim Shirk, Mike Edgerly and Trip Stringer, who is pictured in the photo above. They all spoke well about the benefits of this long trail for not only bicyclists but users of all types -- from walkers and nature lovers to rollerbladers and runners.

I understand the county's parks director, Mark Thornton, has not recommended funding this connector trail this fiscal year. But Commissioner Mark Sharpe told me that the connector trail will be done within five years and that it would be funded within that time frame.

Commissioner Jim Norman raised an issue of spending $4 million for the right-of-way through an equestrian site and asked county staff to check into whether the this section of the trail can somehow link into a pre-existing county right-of-way.

My hunch says the connector trail won't be funded in this fiscal cycle, but, like Sharpe said, it will be funded within the next five years.

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