The 7.5-mile extension for the Legacy Trail to run into downtown Sarasota could come with a $15 million price tag.
County staff is reviewing the first draft of the feasibility study, which Cardno Inc., an international civil design and environmental firm, completed in early December.
The study proposed two options for building the 7.5-mile extension along the former CSX railway corridor: a single, 14-foot-wide shared trail with sections for both bicyclists and pedestrians or separate trails for bicyclists and pedestrians. According to the study, either option would be viable. The single-trail option would cost about $14.9 million to remove the railroad tracks and construct the trail; the other option, which would leave tracks intact, would cost $15.4 million.
CSX Transportation owns the railway corridor and leases it to Seminole Gulf Railway in Fort Myers. The cost to acquire the land has not been estimated, according to the report.
After county staff complete their review of the study, their questions and comments will be sent back to Cardno. The final draft is expected to be ready for county commissioners in February.
After more than a year of fundraising, the Friends of the Legacy Trail and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation met their $72,251 goal to help fund the trail’s extension feasibility study, estimated to cost $150,000.
“The funds are all in — all accounted for,” said Kelly Romanoff, strategic engagement officer for Gulf Coast Community Foundation.
One hundred and thirty-six individuals and organizations contributed, she said. Several fundraisers also helped offset the cost, including the Tour de Parks bicycling fundraiser, which brought in $16,000.
The current 10.8-mile Legacy Trail, constructed for $14.5 million, runs from South Sarasota to Venice. It opened in 2008. The additional section would extend the trail from Palmer Ranch Parkway downtown to Payne Park at School Avenue.
Trail amenities will include shelters at every mile, scenic rest areas, benches, bike racks and mile markers. The report also suggested some additional amenities to enhance user enjoyment and practicality of the trail, including trailheads every two miles, drinking water at some shelters, bike lockers at the heaviest commuter intersection and Wi-Fi at trailheads.
“We’re all looking forward to it,” said Bruce Dillon, vice president of the Friends of Legacy Trail. “It’s a great way to enhance the spirit of the community.”