On February 4th, 2016, The Florida Greenways & Trails Foundation held a board meeting to discuss the future of local and regional shared-use and non-motorized trails. The Foundation is Florida’s chief advocacy organization for non-motorized trails & greenways, and supports expanding public access for all Florida residents and visitors to enhance recreational opportunities, safety, livability, and community and economic development. The February 4th board meeting provided members with opportunities to share ideas, network, and collaborate to connect existing trails and greenways. As part of this meeting, each county in the Tampa Bay region discussed specific plans to achieve this goal.
Priorities identified by Pinellas County include completion of the Pinellas trail loop with a connection to the new Courtney Campbell Trail, as well as completion of the Tri-County Trail which will connect the Brooker Creek Preserve, Starkey Wilderness trail, and eventually provide a connection to Hillsborough County along Tarpon Springs and Boyscout Road.
In addition to prioritizing completion of the Upper Tampa Bay Trail, Bypass Canal Trail, and planned segments of the South County Greenway, Hillsborough County has identified concepts for a trail connection along the I-275 corridor to connect the Courtney Campbell Trail to the RiverWalk, and then along the Palm River to connect to the South County Greenway and beyond to Manatee County. When combined with Pinellas County’s priorities, this will form a continuous trail from Pinellas County to Manatee County, helping to complete the Southwest Coast Regional Connector.
Beth Alden, Executive Director of Hillsborough’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, is enthusiastic about the future of a SUNTrail system here in Tampa. With the state’s new financial commitment to the SUNTrail program, “it’s an exciting time to create greenways in Florida, and Tampa Bay is well positioned to win some of that new funding. We have a long history of cross-county collaboration on major trail corridors.”
The Florida Greenways & Trails Foundation partners with Florida State Parks, the Office of Greenways and Trails, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Department of Transportation and is a non-profit organization. SUNTrails is a statewide trail program that helps to fund regionally significant shared-use, non-motorized trails projects.