Governor Rick Scott announced the 11 new projects that will be funded this year to help advance the Coast to Coast Connector, which will provide a safe and continuous multi-use trail from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic. The Department of Transportation will invest $15.9 million to complete 11 phases of separate trail segments in nine counties. This new funding is in addition to the more than $26 million that has already been invested by FDOT for the Connector project over the next five years.
Governor Scott said, “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. Our tourists increasingly desire new ways to explore this beautiful state and the Coast to Coast Connector will do just that as the only trail in America connecting the Gulf to the Atlantic.”
When complete, the Connector is expected to be over 250 miles and will link communities between St. Petersburg and Titusville into a major destination route that will allow residents and visitors to explore Central Florida by bicycle or foot. An estimated 75 percent of the trail corridor is already developed and open to the public or funded for construction.
FDOT Secretary Ananth Prasad said, “With the projects announced today, we will be moving forward this year on virtually every gap within the Coast to Coast Connector. FDOT is pleased to play such an instrumental role with our state and local partners to help advance this ambitious trail project. It will provide an exceptional experience and safe transportation route for our residents and visitors.”
FDEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. said, “FDOT continues to be a great partner in the statewide trail effort. We are very excited that the Connector project will be the first of many efforts to complete the Florida Greenways and Trails Priority System.”
Senator Andy Gardiner, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Transportation, Tourism and Economic Development, has been a strong advocate for the Connector and was instrumental in setting aside the new funding.
Senator Gardiner said, “It is very rewarding to see the combined efforts of so many come together to help close the gaps in the Coast to Coast Connector. These projects represent a significant step forward for this exciting effort.”
The Connector is a collaborative effort of many agencies and organizations, including the 11 Central Florida metropolitan planning organizations that signed a joint resolution last summer making the trail project a regional priority.
Along with more than nine other long distance corridors, the Connector is a state priority in the 2013-17 Florida Greenways and Trails System Plan, developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Greenways and Trails, the lead entity for statewide trail planning. The plan outlines the vision for the Florida Greenways and Trails System, defining the role of the system in advancing Florida’s economy, tourism, health, transportation, recreation, conservation and quality of life.
President & CEO of VISIT FLORIDA Will Seccombe said, “Florida is an incredibly diverse destination with so much more to see and do than our visitors often realize. Stretching from Tampa Bay to the Space Coast, the Coast to Coast Connector will offer a unique opportunity for them to discover some of the Sunshine State’s most scenic greenways and trails.”
FDOT will supervise development of the remaining Connector gaps, and local governments or other managing agencies will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the completed trail segments.