AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL UPDATE
The Amelia Island Trail has received increasingly higher usage by residents and visitors this past summer. Trail volunteers completed an end-of-summer trimming in September and Nassau County is addressing a change of contractor to help maintain the trail. Unprecedented heavy rains have recently flooded parts of the trail which has been a concern for trail users; as I write this there are still short segments that are under several inches of water. Meanwhile, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) held a public information meeting to present an update on the Timucuan Trail Projects on the Talbot Islands on September 29th. These projects to the south of Amelia Island are of significant interest as they will eventually provide connectivity between the Amelia Island Trail and the St. Johns River Ferry and points south on the East Coast Greenway. The FDOT handouts from that meeting are in the link below. Here are a few of the key points:
The overall objective of a continuous off-road paved path from Amelia Island to Hanna Park in Jacksonville, via the St Johns River Ferry, is unchanged. This update presented 9 related projects to the public as one package managed by one engineer, although each project will likely be funded, designed and constructed as separate but related projects. Grand total to complete all 9 projects including the bridges is $25,123,000.
Although several of the projects are currently unfunded, FDOT is actively, and optimistically, seeking funding from various sources, including some of the $25mil/year the Florida Legislature approved for conservation and trails earlier this year.
- A 7/10 mile segment of trail was paved this summer from Shad Creek near the St. Johns River Ferry north to a new “Ft. George Trailhead”.
- Moving northward, future trail construction between the Ft. George Trailhead across Haulover Creek to Huguenot Park will include a new, bike/ped-only, 220' bridge span. This segment is not yet funded.
- North of Huguenot Park to the Ft. George River will include both a paved trail and a boardwalk. This segment is not yet funded.
- The next new trail segment to be constructed, from the north end of the Ft George River Bridge connecting with the existing trail inside the fence on Little Talbot Island, is funded ($2.3 mil) and will be built in 2016.
- The segment from the entrance to Little Talbot Island SP north to the Big Talbot Island SP Trailhead will cost $1.5mil and it is not yet funded.
- Replacement of the bridges over Sawpit and Myrtle Creeks is now funded for construction in 2020 ($7.1mil). That new construction will include a wide bike lane in both directions.
- Trail planning from the SJR Ferry south to Hanna Park is not funded yet and was not addressed at the FDOT meeting.
- Some public input was received at the September meeting, but if you still wish to comment on the projects you can send email to the project engineer. Go to www.nflroads.com/TimucuanTrail for more information.
Enjoy our trails on Amelia Island and stay tuned for more updates on the Timucuan Trail.
TRAIL UPDATE FOR JUNE, 2015
If you’ve been on the Amelia Island Trail lately you’ve seen the five new benches that were installed in late May. As you read in our previous update, the concrete pads were funded by Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, and the bench donations were arranged by Chris Matricia, an Eagle Scout candidate. Concrete pads were completed in early January. Due to concerns of the FDOT legal department, installation of the benches onto the pads has been “pending” since January. Approval came through in late May and installation was completed within days of the approval. Chris is now “Eagle Scout” Chris Matricia! Trail Rules have also been posted at various locations on the AIT. Our next construction project will be a small map/information kiosk and bike rack at the southern end of the AIT within Amelia Island State Park.
Bill Moore and Nassau County Engineering Staff are making progress on reducing the sign clutter along the trail. The last issue of concern, the height of signs, has been negotiated with FDOT. We should soon see some reduction in the number of signs along the trail; some of the remaining signs will also be relocated to more appropriate locations.
According to Elizabeth DeJesus of the North Florida Transportation Planning Office (NFTPO) the 2.2 mile Simmons Trail will go to contractual design in Fiscal Year (FY)2016 (FY for FDOT begins in July, 2015) and construction will take place in FY2017 and FY2018. So, we are very close to connecting S. Fletcher Av to Bailey Road and the City Ball Fields near the Airport with a safe multi-use path. This neighborhood trail will be much appreciated by the many local residents in the area.
News is not quite so good on the next phase of the Amelia Island Trail. We had hoped the construction of the entire 4+ miles of the next phase would be accelerated, but the latest information we have is that only about 25% of that phase will be scheduled for construction before FY2021. There is some good news, however, as FDOT does plan to do the design of the entire phase at one time, and that will happen in FY 2019. That way, IF any uncommitted trail funds come available, more of the AIT COULD be promptly scheduled for construction. The first construction work of this phase will take place between the intersection of the Amelia Island Parkway (AIP) with S. Fletcher AV., and the intersection of the AIP with Via Del Rey.
To our south, the boardwalk part of the Timucuan Trail on Big Talbot Island is compete, but not yet open to the public (see photo below). With the decision to not continue the trail underneath A1A, a crosswalk between the parking lot near Sawpit Creek and the entry to the boardwalk will be needed. That crosswalk has been designed and construction is to start soon. However, the boardwalk segment will not be open to the public until the crosswalk, with multiple warning lights, is completed.
Boardwalk on Big Talbot Island
Further to the south, another short segment of the Timucuan Trail is under construction (see photo below). That segment will run between Shad Creek just north of the Ferry slip, to the north for about a mile to Haulover Creek. Drainage work will be completed by Jun 7, and paving of the trail will then begin. According to a project manager I interviewed on June 1st, that paving could be complete by June 30. Another short segment farther north is in final planning
Work in Progress! Timucuan Trail grows.
The weekly Wednesday group bicycle ride on the AIT has been very successful (see photo below). Starting June 3rd the start time has been moved up to 9am. Rides start from the AIT kiosk in Peters Point Park and offer optional ice cream and lunch stops. Check www.nfbc.us for more detail on the many group rides sponsored by the North Florida Bicycle Club.
Many thanks to our donors for funds and to our volunteers who help with our projects. Enjoy our trails and ride safely!
President, Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.
Great turnout for a social ride on the AIT!
SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT OF UPCOMING EVENT!
2015 ENDLESS SUMMER WATERMELON RIDE COMING ON SUNDAY, SEPT 13 ON AMELIA ISLAND
Endless Summer Watermelon Ride September 2015 – Registration now open
The North Florida Bicycle Club invites you to the 26th annual Endless Summer Watermelon Ride on Sunday, September 13, 2015 on Amelia Island, Florida. Join cyclists of all speeds along the ocean on scenic Amelia Island through historic, tree lined Fernandina Beach and south to the beautiful Talbot Island State Parks and the St. John’s River. This supported ride includes snacks, rest stops, post ride lunch, mechanical support, motorcycle escorts, and roving support teams. Routes are available at 21, 32, 55, 75 and 100 miles. Come for the ride and stay for the weekend and the ice-cold watermelon!
New for 2015 ESWR ride jerseys just $55!
Hotel Specials! Amelia island has great lodging options, go to the registration page for packages.
Go to www.nfbc.us to Register.
Trail Update for February, 2015
A lot has happened since our last update.
First, Friends of the Amelia Island Trail (FOAIT) has partnered with Boys Scouts of America Troop 89 in a series of projects to enhance the Amelia Island Trail. If you’ve been on the trail recently you have noticed five concrete pads have been installed at key locations near the AIT. Those pads will soon hold benches for use by trail patrons. Additionally, each bench will also have a 9-1-1 address posted to assist Nassau County authorities in responding to emergencies. The concrete pads were made possible by your donations and the benches were arranged by Chris Matricia for his Eagle Scout Project; donors’ names will appear on plaques on each bench. Labor was provided by volunteers from Friends of the Amelia Island Trail and Troop 89. We are currently awaiting final coordination between Nassau County and FDOT which will authorize us to permanently affix the benches to the concrete. Chris and his dad are pictured below on one of the benches.
Second, with the gracious help of Nassau County’s Planning Department, we have produced a custom-made map of the AIT. That map and maps of the East Coast Greenway are now affixed to the kiosk display at the north trailhead in Peters Point Beachfront Park. You can view the AIT map in the maps section of this website. A photo of the east side of our kiosk with displays is below.
Third, we have continued to work with county, regional and state officials to create additional trails on Amelia Island. Our next proposed project, the Simmons Trail, has been approved by the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization and FDOT, and is now in the FDOT’s current 5-year construction plan. Design is anticipated in 2016 with construction of the 2.2 mile, $1.76mil trail in 2018. The trail will run along the Simmons Rd right-of-way from S. Fletcher Av to Bailey Rd, and then south along Bailey Rd into the City’s recreational fields near the airport. Our next project in planning is an extension of the 6.2 mile AIT to the northwest for another 4 miles alongside the Amelia Island Parkway to intersect with highway A1A just east of the Shave Bridge.
Fourth, Bill Moore, an active volunteer and officer of FOAIT, has spearheaded a project to reduce sign clutter along the AIT. Thanks to his efforts an agreement has been reached with Nassau County and FDOT Officials which will reduce the size and number of signs and help relocate remaining signs to more appropriate locations. Relatedly, at our recommendation, Nassau County will soon post “Trail Rules” to help trail users walk and ride safely on the AIT.
And lastly, we have partnered with the North Florida Bicycle Club to establish a weekly group bicycle ride on the AIT. The ride starts every Wednesday at 10am at the north trailhead in Peters Point Beachfront Park and goes south to Big Talbot Island and back. You can visit www.nfbc.us for information on this and many other group rides.
Thanks to all of our volunteers, contributors and bench donors who have supported these projects.
Friends of the Amelia Island Trails, Inc.
Eagle Scout candidate Chris Matricia and father, Dan, on one of the new AIT benches
Information Kiosk at North Trailhead in Peters Point Beachfront Park
AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL MAP KIOSK
During April 2014 a small group of Amelia Island Trail volunteers worked quietly to construct a very sturdy and attractive map and information kiosk at the AIT’s North Trailhead within Nassau County’s Peters Point Beachfront Park. When completed, the kiosk will sport six display panels which will showcase information and maps for the AIT and the East Coast Greenway. It will also house maps depicting future trails planned for Amelia Island and provide information about Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc. Construction is nearly done; remaining work consists of some finishing tasks, creation and installation of the maps and displays, and marking of the handicap parking and access parts of the parking lot.
Construction of the kiosk was definitely a group effort but Allen Gould, a master carpenter who also happens to be a very accomplished and dedicated bicyclist, led the effort for us. Under his guidance and watchful eye, a handful of enthusiastic amateur carpenters and a few professionals turned a plan on paper into a functional project.
In addition to all our “Friends” members who made contributions, bought T-shirts and provided volunteer labor, I’d like to recognize several other contributors to this specific project who provided assistance at key times during construction including: Billy Stonebreaker (Nassau County), Mark and Sherry Bean (BeanBuilders), Johnny Meyers (Meyers Trucking), Asa Gillette (Gillette and Associates), Ronnie Mixon (Top Quality Concrete), and Mark Cutshaw (Florida Public Utilities) and his field crew led by Billy Clardy. We anticipate holding a dedication ceremony for the kiosk sometime in May or early June to recognize all those who contributed to this project.