$2 million project is latest upgrade to the popular trail, which will see further expansion after a $65 million bond approval by voters in November.
For several years, Sarasota County’s beloved Legacy Trail has faced a variety of proposals for extensions and upgrades. Now, nearly 17 months, 90 feet and $2 million later, Sarasota County officials held the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newest Legacy Trail addition -- an overpass on Laurel Road.
Construction on this section of the trail began in August of 2017 and, though the $2 million overpass has been complete and open for use since December of 2018, the official unveiling was held for the public on Wednesday, Jan. 9.
The ceremony included short speeches by Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Director Nicole Rissler, Commissioner Alan Maio and Director John Kubler of the Florida Department of Transportation.
“The project, as we’ve heard, had its challenges. But together, partnering with Sarasota County,” Kubler said to attendees, “we’ve been very successful, as you can see by this fine bridge behind me.”
The overpass and trail detour was approved for construction by the Florida Department of Transportation after locals called safety into question. In particular, according to Friends of the Legacy Trail, pedestrian right of way on the 40 mph road was a continual point of concern.
Now, the overpass sits about 12 feet wide, 90 feet long and 19 feet above Laurel Road itself, granting trail users and bicyclists safe passage across the busy Nokomis road.
“If we can keep pedestrians and bicyclists separate from cars, it’s always a good thing,“ Steven Martin, a member of Friends of the Legacy Trail said. “[The overpass] is a fabulous amenity to add to the trail to improve safety. And, to us, safety is what it’s all about.”
Sarasota County voters agreed to fund a $65 million extension of the trail from the northern end near Palmer Ranch into downtown Sarasota, including overpasses, bathrooms and water stations and further expansion on the southern end.