Last week, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), along with its regional partners, officially opened the last remaining piece of a more than 50-mile trail that connects two Central Florida counties.
With the completion of this final segment, the East Central Regional Rail Trail is now the longest paved rail trail in the state.
“This is an exciting example of how the department is innovatively repurposing the state’s transportation system to provide diverse transportation options for those we serve,” said FDOT Sec. Kevin Thibault.“Converting an old unused rail line to a multiuse trail offers the local community a different kind of recreation and allows visitors a new way to experience the region.”
The approximately 3.6-mile trail segment has been filled in on the East Central Regional Rail Trail, which extends from Titusville in Brevard County to DeBary in west Volusia County as well as north to Edgewater, also in Volusia County. The trail was funded and constructed through a partnership between FDOT and the two counties that it connects.
“This unique partnership to coordinate across counties and through various local and state agencies allowed the community to win big,” said Volusia County Council Representative Danny Robins. “Not only does this trail system connect communities, but it also becomes an economic driver and creates tourism opportunities.”
“It’s such a tremendous opportunity to be able to give our residents and visitors the opportunity to explore the region by foot or bicycle,” Brevard County Commissioner Rita Pritchett said.
Construction for the final segment of the East Central Regional Rail Trail was funded with $5.2 million from FDOT’s SUN Trail program, which helps communities develop paved multi-use trail corridors and connections for bicyclists and pedestrians, as well as more than $300,000 from Volusia ECHO trail funds. Volusia County oversaw its construction through a joint project agreement with FDOT.
The East Central Regional Rail Trail is an important piece of two SUN Trail projects – the Coast-to-Coast Trail and the St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop. When complete, the 250-mile Coast-to-Coast Trail will extend across the state from the Atlantic Ocean to the Gulf of Mexico, while the 260-mile St. Johns River-to-Sea Loop will connect Northeast Florida to the Space Coast.
“Today commemorates a great achievement for this region, and it’s exciting to know plans don’t stop here,” said Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Sec. Noah Valenstein. “The Coast-to-Coast Trail is a key component of Florida’s Greenways and Trails System plan developed by DEP. We are proud to work with our partners across the state to increase recreational opportunities while improving connectivity.”
As of the opening of the final segment of the East Central Regional Rail Trail, a bicyclist or pedestrian is able to travel 65 continuous miles of the Coast-to-Coast Trail through Brevard, Volusia, and Seminole counties and end in Orange County.
The property for the East Central Regional Rail Trail was acquired by the state from the Florida East Coast Railway for $16 million using Florida Forever funds in 2007. At the time, it was the most extensive rail corridor purchase by the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. Florida Forever is the state’s conservation and recreation lands acquisition program, a blueprint for conserving Florida’s natural and cultural heritage.