Record state funding for the Florida Department of Transportation’s successful SUNTrails (Shared Use Nonmotorized) Network, which supports multi-use paved trails of regional significance, including the East Coast Greenway, capped a successful spring of Greenway growth in the Sunshine state.
In May, the Florida Legislature passed SB106, a bill that expands and strengthens existing the SUN Trails Network legislation to the tune of $50 million annually, doubling the $25 million previously earmarked for the program. In addition, SB106 designated a one-time infusion of $200 million “to plan, design and construct projects on the SUN Trail Network.” The bill also includes provisions incorporating Florida's wildlife corridors and expands tourism marketing and project reporting for the SUNTrails Network.
Prior to the passage of SB106, Robert Barto, Florida Manager for the East Coast Greenway Alliance and an honorary board member of the Florida Greenways & Trails Foundation, traveled extensively across the state, garnering support and building coalitions to help secure this breakthrough funding. From community gatherings to the state capital in Tallahassee, the Alliance’s sustained call to double the program budget and its collaboration with regional partners were instrumental in securing this win.
“SB106 marks a historic expansion of funding for a program that has a fantastic track record for building trails as part of the East Coast Greenway, as well as others across the state,” Barto said. “The East Coast Greenway is very much a priority trail network for the state, and this legislation is a huge win for completing our route from Fernandina Beach to Key West.”
As of July 1, Florida communities are encouraged to apply for grants utilizing this expanded SUNTrail program funding. Barto and the Alliance team are available to support Florida communities with mapping/GIS assistance, plan review, feasibility assessments, grant writing, letters of support and more. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
“With this additional funding now available, communities have the means to invest in infrastructure improvements that save lives,” Barto added. “Florida still ranks among the lowest in the nation in bike and pedestrian safety, and it is imperative that we continue to take action to address this issue head-on.”
Earlier this year, the East Coast Greenway enjoyed a pair of route enhancements in the Jacksonville area.
In April, FDOT held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the grand opening of the Fuller Warren Bridge Shared Use Path (SUP), which serves the residents and visitors of Jacksonville by providing pedestrian and bicycle connections between the Riverside and San Marco communities.
Spanning the St. Johns River alongside Interstate 95, the Fuller Warren SUP includes two 6-foot lanes for east/west traffic and features two rest/observation areas featuring panoramic views of the St. Johns River.
Part of a $126 million project, the Fuller Warren Bridge SUP is a key segment of the proposed “Core-to-Coast” loop, a future complementary route of the East Coast Greenway connecting downtown Jacksonville with the surrounding neighborhoods.
To the east of Jacksonville, a reconfiguration of the East Coast Greenway route through Neptune Beach traverses Jarboe Park and connects to a brand-new Florida Department of Transportation signalized crosswalk across State Road A1A. Officially celebrated in April, the new crosswalk connects Jarboe Park to the popular First Street bicycle corridor and multiple beach access points throughout the city. The Greenway in Neptune Beach features nearly two miles of traffic-separated trails.
SUNTrails and other state and federal funding goes entirely to trail planning design and construction. Our staff members work hard to advance projects like this, and we have a sustained track record of turning every dollar donated to our nonprofit into $100 in public investment. We need your support to continue our progress.
Receive the East Coast Greenway news directly in your inbox.
Your support helps to develop this ambitious, 3,000-mile route, Canada to Key West. Your membership gift builds more protected miles that we can all enjoy, today and for generations to come.