Conference update: Coast-to-coast bike path (with St. Pete as one of the hubs) advance in economic talks

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Legislators have agreed to spend $50 million to complete seven gaps in a proposed Saint Petersburg-to-Titusville bicycle and foot path as talks continue over funding the state’s economic projects and infrastructure portion of the budget.

Negotiators for the House and Senate are set to return to the table Sunday.

The 275-mile trail would require the construction of 72-miles of pavement to connect the Pinellas Trail in St. Petersburg to existing trails in Pasco, Hernando, Lake, Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Brevard counties. The state would also have to acquire about 41 miles of land, including a 30-mile stretch from Pasco County, through Sumter County, in to Lake County, for the “Coast to Coast Connector” project proposed by Sen. Andy Gardiner.

“If you look at a map, there are all these trails all throughout but they don’t connect,” Gardiner said. “I’m from Central Florida where we have the West Orange Trail which is a huge economic engine.”

While the project is in the budget as a lump sum for the next fiscal year, Gardiner said the money would eventually be spread out at $10 million over five years.

Support for the trail was not in the House’s initial proposal regarding the budgets for the Division of Emergency Management, Department of Economic Opportunity, Department of State, Department of Transportation, Department of Military Affairs, and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Material from the News Service of Florida was used in this post.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.