By Paul Haydt, Florida Coordinator, East Coast Greenway Alliance
The Florida segment of the East Coast Greenway is the longest of any state along the route, spanning nearly 600 miles from Fernandina Beach to Key West. Currently, over 200 miles are on protected off-road paths. In 2018, we anticipate over 20 new miles of trail in four counties to be completed.
One of the many priorities for the Greenway in Florida is the 20-mile Florida City Gap between Miami and Key Largo. The current on-road travel route is along busy U.S. Highway 1. When the Florida City Gap off-road trail is completed, the 35 miles of protected greenway between Miami Beach and Homestead — the state’s largest metropolitan area — will connect with the 106-mile Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail, part of the East Coast Greenway and one of the world's most recognized natural resources and recreational destinations. This 20-mile trail gap should draw a wide range of new visitors — walkers, hikers, and cyclists — to the area for low-impact tourism.
In Jacksonville, a 50-mile trail project, the Core 2 Coast Loop, is an exciting East Coast Greenway trail development. Jacksonville leaders have asked for the loop to be added to the Greenway's spine route. The trail will enhance developments along the north and south banks of the St. Johns River. It will connect major industrial and business redevelopment areas of the city near the Jacksonville Jaguar Stadium while supporting long-desired community enhancement and redevelopment efforts in some of Jacksonville's older neighborhoods.
To build on the trail momentum in Florida, the East Coast Greenway Alliance will host its second biennial Southeast Greenways and Trails Summit in Jacksonville in 2019. The event will gather trail advocates to inspire further progress while showcasing Florida's recent advances.
This update originally appeared in Connections, a newsletter of Florida's Office of Greenways and Trails
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