NEWS

LOCAL TRAILS UPDATE, FEBRUARY 19,2021

With 2020 (finally!) in our rear-view mirrors, we are all now focusing on the future. The use of our Amelia River-to-Sea and Amelia Island Trails during the pandemic has been exceptionally high as families and individuals find them to be a safe and available alternative to hanging out in their homes! Multi-use trails were certainly one of the high points in a rough year for us all and plans for future trails look pretty darn good, too. Here’s an update on our upcoming local trails and paths.

Schools to Downtown Waterfront Trail. Planning for the Schools to Downtown Waterfront Trail is underway at the City of Fernandina Beach and Nassau County. This trail will connect the Fernandina Beach Middle and High Schools past the ball fields on Hickory St. to the Peck Center at S. 11thSt. and Gum St. and to the Downtown Waterfront via S. 3rd St., Beech St., S. 2nd St., and Ash St. The City authorized a preliminary design study for the trail in 2019 and in January 2020 held a public meeting to review the plan.

map of Schools to Downtown Trail
www.fbfl.us/997/Schools-to-Downtown-Waterfront-Trail

The City Commission subsequently directed staff to begin the grant process. This follows the same process used for our other trails of securing funding from state and federal sources. In October 2020, City and County Managers met and agreed to coordinate grant applications and plans to connect the existing ARTS Trail at Simmons Rd to the planned Schools to Downtown Waterfront Trail. County Managers also indicated an interest in connecting the planned Schools Trail via Citrona Dr. to the existing east-west Jasmine St. Trail. This would create another cross-island trail and provide access from the Atlantic Ocean at beach access #9 all the way to the Amelia River downtown. Yet to come is completing and submitting a grant application. When a grant is awarded and the trail is designed and constructed it will run 2.75 miles.

North 14th Street Trail Interest Survey. You may have recently completed an on-line survey for the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization (NFTPO) about Fernandina’s 14th St. Many of us would like to see a paved off-road trail constructed alongside N. 14th St from Atlantic Av to the Boat Ramp off Pogy Pl. The survey portion of this project is now competed. The NFTPO’s consultant will now review the public comments and then publish a report with recommendations.

Sea and Cycle brochure Water Taxi To St. Marys, Georgia. Just days ago, Amelia Offshore announced the on-demand operation of water taxi service between Amelia Island, FL and St. Marys, Ga. The vessel to be used can carry small groups of up to 6 cyclists with their bikes and the Captain has indicated he can be flexible as to times and on/off-load locations on Amelia Island and in the St. Marys area. This is a nice opportunity for small groups of our local cyclists to add a little variety to their rides. Here’s the web site: www.AmeliaOffshore.com. This may be a precursor to the re-start of regularly scheduled ferry service with larger vessels operated by Amelia River Cruises between Fernandina and St. Marys.

map of Amelia Island Trail planned extension Amelia Island Trail Extension. The planning and design for the Amelia Island Trail extension project is moving right along. According to Nassau County’s Chief Engineer, Robert Companion, segment number one of four for this project, from the intersection of Amelia Island Parkway and South Fletcher Av, to Via del Rey is on schedule. Design for this segment is expected to be complete in July of 2021, and a Request for Proposals for construction of this 8/10 mile, $711,000 construction project will be released about August 2021. Funding is provided through a series of federal grants and there will be no costs for local taxpayers. We may see construction start on segment 1 before the end of 2021!

Construction of the other three segments of this trail extension will follow in sequence. The plan is for the 3 ¾ mile-long trail extension is to be built entirely on the Southwest side of Amelia Island Parkway.

map of Orange Ave proposed trail choices Orange Avenue Trail. The development of a trail between First Coast Hwy and Amelia Island Parkway that borders The Enclave and Summerwoods is partially complete with Orange Avenue now a trail and a new 10-foot wide paved trail from the entrance to Summerwoods to the southeast corner of The Enclave. The plans to complete this trail by connecting Orange Avenue to Amelia Island Parkway await a decision by Summerwoods to choose one of two routes, as Summerwoods owns Sabal Palm road. After that, the county expects to complete design and construct the remainder of the trail.

Timucuan Trail. Further south, on the Talbot Islands, significant work is in progress on the Timucuan Trail.

new Timucual Trail segment construction
Active trail construction north of bridges (2/12/21)
Myrtle Creek bridge replacement on Heckscher Dr.
Construction of the first ½ of new Myrtle Creek Bridge, looking North (2/12/21)
new Timucual Trail segment construction
Looking south past Myrtle Creek. The new trail and roadway will be much wider than the existing roadway (2/12/2021)
new Timucual Trail segment construction
Heavy Equipment on the job near Talbot Island Park Entrance (2/12/21)

The first image is of a new Timucuan Trail segment, looking south from the end of the existing Trail. This segment will be 6/10 of a mile long and connect to a new bridge to be built over Simpson Creek.

If you have ridden or driven on Heckscher Dr. through the Talbot Islands lately, you have experienced the stop-light controlled, one-way traffic that is necessary to maintain traffic flow during active bridge and road construction. Our local riders understand this temporary inconvenience is necessary to insure rapid bridge and trail project completion and riders’ safety. According to both the on-site supervisor and Mr. James A. Salter, FDOT Construction Project Manager, work on the new bridge over Myrtle Creek is on schedule. The first half of the Myrtle Creek Bridge is almost ready to receive concrete. Once concrete is poured and cured, the temporary roadway will then shift to the Northeast onto this new bridge segment, and the other ½ of the Myrtle Creek Bridge to the SW will then be constructed. It will be followed by construction of the next bridge, the Simpson Creek Bridge, in a similar manner. The new off-road trail and both new bridges are expected to open on or before January 2023.

South of the Myrtle Creek Bridge, the new trail will curve to the east at the entrance to the Talbot Park complex, and then connect with the existing trail within the gated part of the Park. It’s a wonderful long-term project that will offer our local cyclists and thru-riders of the East Coast Greenway safer and more enjoyable bicycling!

E-Bikes on Trails. Lastly, there has been considerable conversation about motorized bikes, or E-Bikes, on our two community trails. After much thought and review of input from local trail users, our FOAIT Board of Directors recently asked Nassau County to prepare a proposal to allow Class 1 E-Bikes only (see definitions below), on both the Amelia River-to-Sea and Amelia Island Trails, and also to post a maximum speed limit (Proposed 10mph) on both trails. We understand this is a current topic among cyclists and our local bike club. We looked closely at the population of all types of users that our trails serve and recognized these trails are truly “Community Trails” that welcome and encourage use by families with small children as well as mature adults who may need a Class 1 pedal-assist bicycle. Cyclists who wish to ride faster can always use the adjacent bicycle lanes on A1A which parallel the AIT or use Simmons Rd which parallels the ARTS. Our objective is to keep our trails safe and family oriented.

E-Bike categories, Florida Legislature definitions:
Class 1 Bicycle. Means an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and ceases to provide assistance when the electric bicycle reaches the speed of 20 miles per hour.
Class 2 Bicycle. Means an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that may be used exclusively to propel the electric bicycle and that ceases to provide assistance when the electric bicycle reaches a speed of 20 miles per hour. (Clarification: Rider does not have to be pedaling to accelerate a Class 2 Bicycle.)
Class 3 Bicycle. Means an electric bicycle equipped with a motor that provides assistance only when the rider is pedaling and that ceases to provide assistance when the electric bicycle reaches the speed of 28 miles per hour.

We all yearn for better times beyond the pandemic-driven lifestyle we have now. Meanwhile, our trails will continue to offer safe, family-oriented recreation to help get us through these challenging times while we look forward to the new trails in our future!

Mike Pikula
President,
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.
Visit and like us at https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaIslandTrail

 

CONSTRUCTION STARTS ON NEXT SEGMENT OF TIMUCUAN TRAIL ON TALBOT ISLANDS, SEPTEMBER, 2020

Under a Florida Department of Transportation contract, Superior Construction Company began work Tuesday, September 1st on the next 1.6 mile segment of the off-road Timucuan Trail alongside State Highway A1A through Talbot Islands State Parks.

When this segment is completed in 2023, except for a short ½ mile segment being designed, the Timucuan Trail will stretch from the Mayport Ferry landing northward through the length of Talbot Islands State Parks to the Nassau River Bridge, a distance of approximately 9.9 miles. After crossing the one-mile long bridge over the Nassau Sound using its wide and well-marked bicycle lanes, northbound riders can join the Amelia Island Trail (AIT) on Amelia Island. Added to the existing 6 miles of the AIT, the combined route will offer walkers, runners, and cyclists nearly 17 miles of safe and scenic experience. Once this segment is completed, two other segments will remain to be built north of the St. Johns River: a short ½ mile segment between Huguenot Park and the Fort George River bridge, and a new trailhead on Ft George Island. The map below illustrates the projects.

According to Craig Teal, Florida Department of Transportation Senior Project Manager, this initiative was one part of Jacksonville’s Preservation Project begun in 1999 by then-mayor John Delaney. The Trail takes its name from the Timucuan Preserve through which it passes. Public support for multiuse trails has been very strong in northeast Florida. FDOT has released a special notice to the public on this project. See FDOT Press Release.

Many North Florida Bicycle Club members have ridden through Talbot Islands State Parks on A1A’s shoulders (not a bike lane) during the Club’s Endless Summer Watermelon Ride (ESWR) or on one of NFBC’s recurring rides and have often commented about the natural beauty of the parks and the trail. Some will also recall that the trickiest part of those rides includes the very narrow bridges over Simpson and Myrtle Creeks.

Currently, if you don’t time your bridge crossing carefully when riding your bike, you could have a serious conflict with overtaking or oncoming motor vehicles. This construction project will improve that situation by also replacing those narrow bridges with wider ones that include 10-foot shoulders with the protected trail on the east side of the northbound lane.

The Timucuan Trail and the Amelia Island Trail are both designated segments of the National East Coast Greenway (www.Greenway.org ) . The ECG, a long-term work in progress, will eventually offer cyclists protected off-road trail riding from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida.

Safe maintenance of traffic on State Highway A1A is a top FDOT priority, but the project’s 2 1/2 year duration will create some flow issues. FDOT plans to work on one bridge at a time to facilitate traffic movement and use automated traffic signals and/or flaggers when one-way traffic must be implemented. Despite a detailed FDOT construction plan we can expect some minor delays along this most scenic of our North Florida roads for both cyclists and motorists until project completion in Spring of 2023. Kudos to FDOT, the Florida Park Service, and the City of Jacksonville for taking on this complex project! Be patient, ride safely and enjoy our trails and bicycle lanes.

Mike Pikula
President,
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.
Visit and like us at https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaIslandTrail

 

AMELIA RIVER TO SEA TRAIL NEW AMENITIES, AUGUST 21, 2020

The ARTS Trail now has benches, bike racks, and a bicucle work station for your use. The rest stops with a bench and bike rack are located just west of First Avennue, just west of Amelia Road, and next to Lakeside between Amelia and Bailey Roads. The bicyle work station, with a bench, bike rack, air pump, and a stand with tools, is located at Bailey Road just north of the entrance to the Fernandina Beach Athletic Complex. The complex is at the south end of Bailey Road, and has a public parking lot. See trail map and ARTS Trail Tour

The pictures show county road crew employess installing the benches and rack, and Mike Pikula, President of The Friends of Amelia Island Trail, the non profit group that planned and sponsored the amenities.

 

FLORIDA BICYCLE ASSOCIATION GIVES AWARD TO FRIENDS OF AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL, SPRING, 2020

The Florida Bicyle Association announced its 2019 annual awards, giving the award for Trail Promoter of The Year to The Friends of Amelia Island Trail.
See spring, 2020 FBA Messenger.
See also 2/14/20 FBA letter to FOAIT announcing award.

 

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL UPDATE, FEBRUARY 21, 2020

Here’s our winter update on trail and cycling activity in our local area primarily covering Amelia Island, the Talbot Islands and nearby Nassau County.

Amelia River-to-Sea Trail. (ARTS Trail) The trail to Crane Island Park at the western portion of the trail is now complete, and the pier in the park that extends to the Amelia River is open. The park is still under development. See ARTS Trail Tour

Local Short Trail Projects. The Friends of the Amelia Island Trails, on February 18, 2020, asked the city of Fernandina Beach to approve three projects to add sidewalks and trails. The projects are:

  1. Construct a multi-use path on the north side of Gum Street from S. 11thSt. to S. 5thSt,
  2. Construct a path through the city park at Lime St. and S. 8th to connect Lime St. to S. 7thSt, and construct a short sidewalk on the north side of Lime St. to connect the existing marked crosswalk across S. 8th St. to Clinch Dr, and
  3. Find a means to get cyclists and pedestrians safely from S. 2ndSt. and Ash St. to the planned sidewalk on the east side of the railroad tracks connecting Ash St. to Centre St.
See Request for 3 new trail/sidewalk projects (2/18/20)

Timucuan Trail. The Timucuan Trail runs through Big and Little Talbot islands, connecting the south end of Amelia Island Trail to the ferry crossing at Mayport. There are two more segments of trail to build. One of them, a section that runs from Huguenot park to the Fort George river bridge, is currently being designed, with construction expected to start when funding is secured which hopefully will be as soon as the next few years.

The other section, a trail that crosses Simpson Creek and Myrtle Creek, requires bridge replacement. The FDOT has scheduled replacement staring this year. Bids go out in May 2020, with construction beginning as soon as August or September.

Both bridges will be replaced with a wider bridge design that includes eight foot wide shoulders and a ten foot wide pathway on the east side. Heckscher Drive will be one lane controlled by traffic signals during the construction.

Water Taxi to St. Marys, Georgia. The Friends of the Amelia Island Trails has been working with the city of Fernandina Beach to reestablish a water taxi that runs between Fernandina Beach and St Marys, Georgia. On 11/5/19, the city of Fernandina Beach approved Amelia River Excursions to provide the taxi service, with an expected start date of spring 2020 based on reestablished fuel service at the marina. Fernandina Beach and St Marys have each approved a $10,000 grant for the service and free dockage for the first two years. 11/10/19 Fernandina Observer -City awards water taxi service to Amelia River Cruises

The expected start date has been moved back, and now depends primarily on the status of marina repairs and fuel service, which could be as early as this summer.

New Trail Plans page. The Friends of the Amelia Island Trails have provided an updated long term trail plan that includes planned and conceptual trails for Amelia Island, Nassau County, and Duval County. See Trail Plans

Mike Pikula
President,
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.
Visit and like us at https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaIslandTrail

 

SCHOOLS TO DOWNTOWN WATERFRONT TRAIL PROPOSAL REVIEW AND WORKSHOP, JANUARY 23, 2020

City residents have asked for a paved off-road path from the schools to downtown. The proposed trail along Hickory St. would connect the schools on Citrona Ave. to the ball fields, the Peck Center, the Amelia Island Museum of History and the downtown waterfront.

Volunteers have gone door to door in the neighborhoods along the proposed trail. The workshop on January 23rd presented a concept plan, and then the community responded with ideas and concerns. See also
9/9/19 FBCC authorizes planning study to extend island trail to Amelia River
1/2/20 Schools to Downtown Waterfront Trail public workshop
1/25/20 Proposed Schools to Downtown Waterfront Trail
All articles appearing in the Fernandina Observer.

 

CAMDEN COUNTY GEORGIA BICYCLE TRAILS MAP, JANUARY, 2020

Kingsland, Georgia has a website with a map of bicycle trails in nearby southern Georgia. See https://www.visitkingsland.com/placestoplay.htm and look for the “Biking” brochure, or this direct link Camden County Georgia Biking. The brochure includes where bicycle rentals are available.

 

GRAND OPENING OF THE AMELIA RIVER TO SEA TRAIL, SEPTEMBER 23, 2019

The Grand Opening of the Amelia River-to-Sea Trail took place on Monday, September 23, 2019 at the Bailey Road Trailhead. Nassau County Commissioners, City Commissioners and approximately 50 local supporters attended to hear remarks from Commissioner Justin Taylor, Chairman of the Nassau County Board of County Commissioners. Additional speakers included Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper, Aaron Bell District two Commissioner, Mike Pikula, President of Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc., and Mr. Jack Healan, Developer of Crane Island.

See Mike Pikula's speech and September 24, 2019 Fernandina Observer article Amelia Island River-To-Sea Trail almost complete with more trails on the drawing board.

Mike Pikula, President
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.
Visit and like us at https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaIslandTrail

 

ARTS TRAIL RIBBON-CUTTING CEREMONY ON SEPTEMBER 23, 2019

On Monday, September 23, 2019 at 4:00 p.m., the Board of County Commissioners will host a Ribbon Cutting Ceremony in celebration of the opening of the 1.8 mile eastern portion of the ARTS trail.

This will take place at the sports complex at the end of Bailey Road. We will have the opportunity to ride this trail after the ceremony. We hope to see you all there.
See Press Release ARTS Trail Opening Ceremony

Bill Bokram for
Mike Pikula, President
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.
Visit and like us at https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaIslandTrail

 

FERNANDINA TRAIL PROPOSAL AT FERNANDINA BEACH COMMISSION MEETING, SEPTEMBER 17, 2019

Please join us to support our next planned future addition to our trails: The Fernandina Trail. On September 17, 2019 the Fernandina Beach City Commission will hear our proposal for a planning study to tie the planned Citrona trail to downtown via Hickory, Gum and Third Streets. The study is needed to apply for a SUN Trail grant to fund trail construction (estimated at $1.3 million.)
Fernandina Trail proposal and SUN Grant Request

Please wear your bicycling or walking atire and attend this important meeting. Your presence will go a long way toward building consensus for this important trail segment.

Some talking points for your consideration:
Trails tie us together with nature, our neighbors and our community.
Trails are tools of conservation by reducing auto traffic and the need for parking.
Every trail is a tree planting opportunity.

Best regards and see you on September 3 at the City Commission,

Mike Spino
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.
Visit and like us at https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaIslandTrail

 

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL UPDATE JUNE 5, 2019

Here’s our summer update on trail and cycling activity in our local area primarily covering Amelia Island, the Talbot Islands and the Ft George area.

Amelia River-to-Sea Trail. (ARTS Trail) The trail is now under construction to be completed and open by this fall. The contractor, Florida Infrastructure, Inc., has completed various retaining walls and is progressing from the west end at the City Ball fields off Bailey Road towards the east end at S. Fletcher Avenue. Current work is along Simmons Road just east and west of 14th Street.

The Crane Island developers are also completing their portion of the trail.

This project is funded for $1.35 million as FDOT project 43639871 for the Simons/Bailey Road Trail portion; Crane Island developers are funding their portion of the trail.

Timucuan Trail. The new bike and pedestrian bridge over Haulover Creek is complete and now open. This new section extends the trail from the ferry crossing to the entrance to Huguenot Memorial Park.

The two new, wider roadway bridges with separated bike lanes over Simpson Creek and Myrtle Creek are on track and planned for 2021. The Timucuan Trail is also part of the East Coast Greenway and connects to the Amelia Island Trail. These bridge crossings will complete most of the remaining trail through the Talbot Islands. The remaining section, a half mile of trail that borders the Fort George Sound marsh from Huguenot Park to the Fort George River bridge, is undergoing design.

Bill Bokram for
Mike Pikula, President
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.
Visit and like us at https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaIslandTrail

 

AMELIA-RIVER-TO-SEA TRAIL UPDATE, FEBRUARY 13, 2019

Groundbreaking for the new cross-island multi-use trail, the Amelia River-To-Sea (ARTS) Trail, took place in November 2018. As its name implies, the Trail will run from the Amelia River near Crane Island to the Atlantic Ocean at Beach Access #30 on S. Fletcher Av. Construction is now well under way with tons of fill dirt being placed along the route to prepare it for the final smooth asphalt surface.

Like the existing six-mile long Amelia Island Trail (AIT), the “ARTS” will be a 10- foot wide asphalt-surfaced trail reserved for use by walkers, runners and cyclists; no motorized vehicles will be permitted, except motorized wheelchairs for handicap access.

The contractor, Florida Infrastructure, Inc., is working in a general west to east direction so the current construction activity is along Bailey Road and the unpaved Simmons Road ROW south of the Isle de Mai subdivision. Construction is expected to take approximately 300 days with an estimated completion date of August 30, 2019.

This $1.7 million, 1.9 mile project is funded by a federal grant received through the joint efforts of the City of Fernandina Beach, Nassau County, the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization and local volunteers. Additional construction of approximately one mile of trail has already been completed by the Crane Island Development. Approximately 6/10 mile of this is a paved asphalt trail, and 4/10 mile is a crushed rock surface terminating at a small park to be built near the Amelia River. The Development will grant public access to this trail segment and park. Combined, this makes the overall ARTS Trail length approximately 2.9 miles.

Additionally, certain trailside amenities will be funded and constructed by Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc., a local non-profit organization focused on creating and improving safe walking, running and cycling paths on Amelia Island. See about us and support us

Mike Pikula
President,
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.
Visit and like us at https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaIslandTrail

 

For earlier news (2013 through 2018), see News Archive

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