After voters approved a $65 million bond, Legacy Trail land buys, design and construction may wrap up in 2023.
By the middle of the next decade, Sarasota County voters won’t just be able to see where their taxes have gone— they’ll be able to ride on it.
In November, Sarasota County voters approved by a margin of 70% a $65 million bond issue to finance the Legacy Trail extension into downtown Sarasota. The levy on property with a taxable value of $200,000 is about $7-$16 annually for 20 years, varying from year to year.
The purchase of a rail corridor from the north end of the trail, at Culverhouse Park in Palmer Ranch, was already completed in 2017 for $7.5 million.
Work to buy the remainder of the right of way and begin designing and building extensions on the popular Legacy Trail begins in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, with 2023 set as the anticipated completion year.
Aside from the land acquisition and construction, the $65 million price tag will fund connectors to North Port and Venice, overpasses over some roads and bridges over water, as well as pave the corridor and add rest stops and water fountains.
Friends of the Legacy Trail President Roger Normand, who worked to rally support for the extension project and its vote, said he feels happy about the overall progress being made.
“We’re still ecstatic about the results,” he said. “We’re continuing a dialogue with county officials, and we’re pleased with the effort so far.”
And those county officials, too, said they were happy about the status of the project and upcoming construction.
“Whatever we can do to push this through as soon as possible I think will be great for our area,” Commissioner Christian Ziegler said. “And great for our citizens.”
The tentative construction sequence will work this way:
Construction will span from Payne Park and Fruitville Road south toward Ashton Road and will generally follow what is currently a rail corridor owned by Seminole Gulf Railway. The construction will include an overpass at Bee Ridge Road.
This northern extension, slated to be purchased and designed during the 2019-2020 fiscal year, is where voters will begin to see the first tangible effects of the Nov. 6 referendum.
n After this phase is completed, which developers say may take two to three years, the link to the existing trail will follow.
Spanning from Culverhouse Nature Park in Palmer Ranch to Ashton Road, construction will connect or “bridge” the original Legacy Trail with the trail extension in the northern end of the county. This section will span about two miles and include an overpass on Clark Road.
SunTrail money granted to Sarasota County in 2017 by the Florida State Department of Transportation will fund the land purchase for this portion. The grant totals about $7.5 million.
Developers plan to undergo construction during the 2022-2023 fiscal year.
The Legacy Trail extension is expected to be complete after this segment ends. The tentative completion date of the Legacy Trail extension project is the end of 2023.