Gov. Rick Scott today announced the 11 new projects — including two in Sumter County and one in Lake – 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, according to a press release from Scott’s office. This new funding is in addition to the more than $26 million that has already been invested by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for the Connector project over the next five years.
“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,” Scott said in the release. “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.”
Lake and Sumter’s funding share is estimated at $3.15 million and includes $1.5 million to complete the trail from State Road 33 to Silver Eagle Road, and $1.3 million to link the Van Fleet State Trail to Villa City Road. Another $350,000 will be spent to connect the Withlacoochee State Trail to the Van Fleet State Trail.
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, the press release said. An estimated 75 percent of the trail corridor is already developed and open to the public or funded for construction.
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.