AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL
“We have a Trail! A very, very nice Trail.”
Those words, or words to that effect, were heard from many attendees Saturday morning, May 11th, as the Trail Celebration ended and the 9am Ribbon-Cutting took place under a bright blue sky for the brand new Amelia Island Trail. Guest speakers provided background information, thanked some of the many responsible for the Trail’s creation, and passed on additional good news to a crowd of approximately 150-200 attendees about riding, running and walking on Amelia Island. Phil Scanlan acted as our Master of Ceremonies recognizing many instrumental supporters of the Trail, and also praised Mr. Joel Beckham for his volunteer work supporting the Bikes for Barnabus program. Mr. Herb Hiller, representing the East Coast Greenway Alliance, recognized the important work of the Amelia Island Tail Team and described how the AIT will fit in the national plan for a trail from Maine through Florida. Robert Joseph, Manager of Talbot Islands State Parks (including Amelia Island State Park) announced that additional mileage will soon be added to the Timucuan Trail on Big Talbot Island. Mike Pikula thanked some of the many behind-the-scenes planners and doers in our extended community who made the Trail possible and described plans for Friends of the Amelia Island Trail. Fernandina Beach Mayor Sarah Pelican announced that the City of Fernandina will be recognized on May 13th by the League of American Bicyclists with a Bronze level award as a Bicycle Friendly City. Chairman of the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners Danny Leeper let us know about the next trail project coming to Nassau County along Simmons Road connecting the City ball fields off Bailey Rd to South Fletcher Av. Katie Ross, representing U.S. Senator Nelson, read a letter congratulating the community on the completion of the Trail. And Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper spoke about keeping trail users safe and reminded us to note and comply with traffic control signs on the AIT.
After the remarks, Commissioner Leeper and Mayor Pelican cut the ribbon releasing bicyclists, runners and walkers to try out the Trail! You should try it out, too.
AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL CELEBRATION!
In a matter of hours, the Celebration Event for the opening of the Amelia Island Trail will happen. If you are a local walker, runner or bicyclist you don’t want to miss this. Very probably this will be the only such event you will ever attend for the opening of a major regional trail, and thus earn the right to tell stories about it to your grandchildren, or at least to your houseguests who may ask you about the trail. The recognition portion of the program will start promptly on 8:30am on Saturday, May 11th, at Peters Point Beachfront Park (4600 Peters Point Rd). It will be immediately followed by a ribbon-cutting, then all walkers, runners and bicyclists will be invited to head off down the trail for whatever distance they choose (remember, you’ll need to get back to the start, too). Participants are urged to arrive early and be ready to walk, run or ride by about 8:15 as there will be no opportunity to unload bikes or put on running shoes once the speeches begin. You’ll also have an opportunity before and after the event to visit membership booths for Walkin’ Nassau, Amelia Island Runners Club, and the North Florida Bicycle Club. If you have an Amelia Island Trail T-shirt, wear it; if you don’t have one, there will be a limited number for sale before the event starts.
WE’LL SEE YOU ON THE TRAIL!
4/25/2013 AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL, CONSTRUCTION UPDATE BY MIKE PIKULA
Well, we are getting really close to an official opening by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The 99% acceptance inspection was held on Tuesday, April 23. At that inspection, a number of matters were raised and discussed. A few items did require the contractor to take action. Of interest to our readers, a small pothole appeared in the Trail near Racquet Park Rd within the Omni-Amelia Island Plantation. The contractor announced that he would remove all the barrels and barricades starting April 24th. A large tree toppled across A1A Sunday in the latest storm; it did not damage the Trail. Several trees do require trimming along the Trail. Two “Trail Crossing” signs need to be relocated. The flashing beacon near the southernmost roundabout which was temporarily removed during construction is now re-installed. The flume created to aid drainage of rainwater off the Trail was considered completed. Special order signs depicting the Amelia Island Trail logo, and signs for the East Coast Greenway arrived and were installed at six locations along the Trail.
I visited the Trail late this afternoon (Thursday, April 25, 2013) and indeed all the barrels and barricades are now removed. The pothole has been repaired. The “Trail Crossing” signs were relocated.
We are currently awaiting FDOT’s determination to accept the Trail, or not. We’ll let you know as soon as FDOT releases its decision, probably within a few days. Remember, our “Celebration” for the Trail is at 8:30am, on Saturday, May 11th at Peters Point Park.
PATCHED POTHOLE PHOTO BELOW
4/19/2013 AIT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE
Although the Trail is not officially open yet, and barricades and barrels are still in place, many people have already been using and enjoying the trail. Response from these users is very positive. However, some concerns have already surfaced about safety. The Trail crosses numerous side streets and driveways and there are many stop signs for trail users to heed when approaching those crossings. Some local resident motorists have already noted cyclists disregarding these stop signs. Being on the Trail is no guarantee there will not be danger from automobiles; Trail walkers and cyclists must use great care when approaching these intersections as the motorists may not see you. Be careful out there and be sure your kids don't get too far ahead of you!
New concrete flume to correct rainwater drainage issue
On the Amelia Island Trail looking north alongside S.Fletcher Av. Clean and green!
Coming soon to an island near you!
The Amelia Island Trail is taking shape and will be ready for bicyclists, walkers and runners in the spring of 2013. After more than a decade filled with grant submissions, letters of justification, public meetings, negotiations, and lots of professional planning and support, construction began on October 15th, 2012. The 6.2 mile, paved, off-road, multi-use trail is scheduled for completion spring 2013.
Amelia Island has long been a favored destination for area cyclists and runners especially in the past two years since scenic coastal Highway A1A was resurfaced and designated bicycle lanes were added. Now with the addition of the Amelia Island Trail (AIT), cyclists and runners will soon have more options as the AIT will provide a safer alternative route; it will be especially welcomed by families and young cyclists who are not comfortable riding in bicycle lanes alongside highway traffic.
The design of the AIT takes full advantage of the tree canopy alongside A1A and routes much of the trail through a shaded and wind-shielded course. It will begin at the north trailhead, Nassau County’s Peters Point Park, near the Ritz Carlton Hotel. For a short stretch, the trail is sited directly adjacent to A1A. After approximately 1 mile of straight and level, it will cross the highway into a wooded section and begin a game of “peek-a-boo” with A1A as it weaves in and out of the tree line, passes through the Omni Amelia Island Plantation and works its way much like a meandering river to its south trailhead, the Amelia Island State Park. By using existing parks as trailheads and taking advantage of parking lots and restroom already in place, limited trail funds were stretched to build more actual trail. If you enjoy the Jax-Baldwin Railtrail, you will love the new AIT!
The AIT will connect across the Nassau Sound with the Timucuan Trail, which is being completed in phases on the Talbot Islands. Eventually, bicyclists and runners will have available over 15 miles of continuous multi-use trail for their use. These trails are also destined to become part of the East Coast Greenway (www.greenway.org) which is planned to connect Calais, Maine with Key West, Florida.
The trail didn’t just happen. With strong community support, our North Florida Transportation Planning Organization (NFTPO) agreed it had regional significance and was instrumental in directing $2.3 million of federal transportation enhancement funds to the project enabling the Florida Department of Transportation to design and contract for its construction. The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort worked closely with FDOT planners to optimize the AIT’s route through their property. Continuity and passion for the project was provided by the Amelia Island Trail Team, a coalition of bikers, runners, government officials and local businesses in Nassau County and Fernandina Beach which kept the project on the front burner for years.
To insure the AIT has necessary trailside amenities and is maintained properly, a local non-profit organization has been created. The “Friends of the Amelia Island Trail” is an IRS-approved 501 (c) (3) charitable corporation formed with the purpose of maintaining and improving the AIT. Donations are fully tax-deductible and may be sent to Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, POBox 16113, Fernandina Beach, FL, 32035.
We anticipate holding a grand opening ceremony on or about March 1st and we will announce it through this website, and other media sources.