NEWS

NEW TRAIL PLANNING OPEN HOUSE ANNOUNCED, FEBRUARY, 2017

You are invited to a Nassau County community open house to learn about the next phase of the Amelia Island Trail.

Amelia River-to-Sea Trail "Simmons Road Trail" Informational Open House

When: March 2, 2017 from 5:00PM - 7:00PM
Where: American Beach Community Center.
(1600 Julia Street, Fernandina Beach, FL 32034)

Information on the Amelia River to the Sea portion of the AIT will be provided and input received. For more information contact Kailey Porter at: kporter@nassaucountyfl.com or 904-530-6300 or Drop in for our Open House to discuss the Amelia River-toSea Trail, otherwise known as the Simmons Road Trail.

Come speak with Staff from the County, City and the Project Consultant, Element Engineering Group, to ask questions, view the plan thus far, and provide us with your feedback, comments and questions. Public participation is encouraged and sought without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability or family status. Persons who require special accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act or persons who require translation services (free of charge) should contact Project Mgr name at the Project Mgr phone number at least 7 days before the meeting.

See March 2, 2017 Open House flyer.

 

BIKE AUCTION, JANUARY, 2017

Announcing a Bike Auction in Support of the Amelia Island Trail.

1994 Trek 2200 road bike, size 58cm.

Own a piece of cycling history
From the workshop of master restorer, Gus Reinwald, comes a rare bicycle: A 1994 Trek 2200 road bike. This early lugged carbon fiber framed bicycle has aluminum stays and full 8 speed Campagnolo grouppo. An unusual carbon and aluminum combination that shows Trek's progression in bicycle design.

See this bike at
SuperCorsa Cycles
4925 1st Coast Hwy
Amelia Island FL 32034

Auction runs January 29 - February 12. Send your bids and questions to: friendsoftheaitrail@gmail.com Minimum bid $300 or Buy It Now for $399. All sales final. Pay by cash or check and pickup by February 15.

For more information and photos of the bicycle, see Friends of Amelia Island Trail Facebook page.

 

TIMUCUAN TRAIL ADDITION COMING SOON, NOVEMBER 21, 2016

The Florida Department of Transportation will soon begin construction of a fifth segment of the Timucuan Trail, a multi-use bike and walking path, on the east side of Heckscher Drive (State Road A1A) from the Fort George River Bridge to Little Talbot Island State Park. The Timucuan Trail connects to the Amelia Island Trail at the south end of Amelia Island. See FDOT announces Timucuan Trail addition starting soon.

 

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL FALL UPDATE, NOVEMBER 10, 2016

For this update, we have some good news items and one not-so-good item (that needs your help) to share about our local pedestrian and bicycle trails on and near Amelia Island.

First, trail cleanup from Hurricane Mathew is essentially complete, and the trail is in safe condition for your use, so enjoy the trail during this cooler fall weather. Thanks to everyone who helped with debris removal and general clean-up.

Simmons Trail. Design on the 2.2 mile Simmons Trail has reached the approximate 30% completion point. According to Jonathan Page, Nassau County's project engineer, once contractors complete certain milestones he will convene a public forum to allow interested persons to review and comment on the design. This "30% Design Review", likely to be scheduled by year's end, will allow the public and his office an opportunity to provide feedback and insure the contractor is on the right track.

This new paved trail will run westward from the intersection of S. Fletcher AV and Simmons Rd., to Bailey Rd, and then south across the Amelia Island Parkway to the City ball fields. At that point it will connect to a recently-completed paved trail into the new Crane Island development and terminate at an overlook on the Amelia River. Construction is expected to take place in Summer, 2017. Here's a link to the Detailed Simmons Trail Concept.

Hurricane Matthew Damage. The Amelia Island Trail on Amelia Island proper, sustained some damage from the October 8th storm, including much debris, downed trees and some actual asphalt surface and erosion damage. As of November 10, the trail on Amelia Island proper has been cleared of major debris and is again in use by local walkers, runners and cyclists.

However, one trail segment sustained major damage. In the George Crady Bridge Fishing Pier State Park, the causeway between the Nassau River Bridge and the Sawpit Creek Bridge which links Amelia Island State Park with Talbot Islands State Park was breached and is now closed to public use, essentially cutting the park in half. That segment constitutes an integral part of the Amelia Island Trail, linking it to the Timucuan Trail; it is also designated as part of the East Coast Greenway. One of our most popular NFBC weekly social rides usually crosses these bridges and causeway, but this damaged segment may never be available to fishermen, walkers or cyclists again.

See more images of the area at this Presentation on Sawpit Breach.

Senator Aaron Bean and his staff are in discussions with officials from the Florida Park Service, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), and the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) to determine a course of action that will either repair the damage, or do nothing and allow nature to have its way. FDEP is currently assessing the damage and determining cost estimates. Recent discussions with FDEP officials were not promising; FDEP cited funding shortages and proposed a "do nothing" alternative.

Responsibility for maintaining the "George Crady Fishing Pier State Park" passed from FDOT to FDEP in 2003. Representative George Crady had earlier convinced the Florida Legislature to retain the old bridge for recreation rather than destroy it after the new A1A bridge next to it was completed in 1999. Funding to maintain the "Fishing Bridge" and causeway has come from a special trust fund using annual contributions from Duval and Nassau Counties. Unfortunately, FDEP expects repair costs to far exceed what money is in the trust fund and they have indicated they have no state funds to contribute.

Once actual FDEP cost estimates are available, Senator Bean will convene another discussion to determine the fate of this very popular connection between Duval and Nassau Counties. If you would like to see this now-severed connection restored, please contact Senator Bean or his assistant at:

Bean.aaron@flsenate.gov
Alexander.dee@flsenate.gov

Timucuan Trail Boardwalk. The boardwalk on Big Talbot Island by the large pond (aka Spoonbill Pond) across from the Sawpit Creek Boat Ramp is now open to the public. FDOT contractors recently completed the marking, signage, and on- demand flashing beacons to permit a safe crossing of A1A from the parking lot and connection to the Amelia Island Trail on the west side of the highway to the boardwalk on the east side. This boardwalk provides users with an elevated view of the large pond and is especially interesting to birdwatchers and naturalists. Although this boardwalk was completed several years ago, it has been closed to public use pending design and construction of this safer crossing.

We are making progress and appreciate your help. Enjoy our trails on Amelia Island and in nearby locations and stay tuned for more updates.

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

 

AMELIA ISLAND TRAILS UPDATE, JUNE 1ST, 2016

We have a medley of trail topics in this edition of our update.
First, thanks to Mike Spino for putting Amelia Island Trails on Facebook. Visit and like us at Friends of The Amelia Island Trail Facebook page. The Amelia Island Trail's Facebook page will offer factual and helpful information for our residents and visitors.

Second, thanks again to Mike Spino and to Gus Reinwald for teaming up to create a new fundraiser for Friends of The Amelia Island Trail. Generously donated by Don and Marsha Joyner, these two vintage Raleigh 3-speed bikes (one mens and one womens), have been meticulously restored by Gus. The bikes will be offered to the highest bidder in an on-line auction with funds going to the FOAIT. See the bikes at SuperCorsa Cycles on the Trail or check them out online at the Friends of the Amelia Island Trail Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/AmeliaIslandTrail). Bids and questions can be emailed to: friendsoftheameliaislandtrail@gmail.com.

Third, we'd like to welcome Drew and Tasha Carver and wish them well with the official Grand Opening on June 11th of SuperCorsa Cycles at 4925 First Coast Highway (see our Bike Rentals and Bike Shops pages for more information). There will be an "open house" with refreshments from 1-4pm that Saturday. Their new bike shop is located directly adjacent to the Amelia Island Trail just south of Baxter's Restaurant. SuperCorsa Cycles is a supporter of Friends of the Amelia Island Trail and they will be displaying at their shop the two Raleigh bikes coming up for auction.

And speaking of fundraising, our matching program for the Simmons Trail has come to a successful conclusion. Thanks to the generosity of an anonymous donor who agreed to match at the 50% level all donations made specifically for the Simmons Trail project, we already have available at least $5700. These funds will be used to build or purchase trailside amenities such as information kiosks, benches, signage, etc. Additional donations are still encouraged and appreciated.

That leads us nicely to an update on the Simmons Trail. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) did award a contract for the trail design and that work is under way. Construction start is planned for 2017 with completion of the paved trail in 2018 (FDOT Project 433987-1). And, we have been told the developer for Crane Island has agreed to provide a connecting trail from the western end of the Simmons Trail to an overlook on the Amelia River. We have no new information on the localized drainage issue along part of the trail's route.

Elsewhere on Amelia Island, we anticipate design and construction of the remaining 4.4 miles of the Amelia Island Trial to be completed in four segments with work tentatively planned for 2020 (FDOT Projects 437334/5/6/7-1).

Although not technically part of our trail system on Amelia Island here's an update on Timucuan Trail progress on Big Talbot island. As mentioned in our last report, the opening of the boardwalk segment of the Timucuan Trail has been delayed for some time until a final plan for safe crossing of highway A1A could be agreed to. That plan is now in place (FDOT Project 438090-1) and FDOT estimates the high-visibility crosswalk will be completed in August, 2016. At that time the boardwalk segment will be opened and will connect with the existing paved segment. Other new segments of the Timucuan Trail are actively being planned by FDOT. The first actual construction we should see will be a short segment from the north end of the bridge over Ft George Inlet into Little Talbot Island State Park. Other trail segments are also being planned as well as new bridges over Simpsons and Myrtle Creeks.

Bridges over creeks and rivers are integral to travel in Florida and we have good news about the new high-span bridge on Heckscher Drive over Sisters Creek in Duval County. The final spanning trusses were placed recently and completion is now expected by August 5, 2016. This is later than the original estimate of June, 2016, but there were several unexpected delays due to weather and material. In addition to the wide vehicle travel lanes, the new bridge will have wide "breakdown" lanes that will offer safe cycling and a protected path for pedestrians and cyclists not comfortable riding near traffic. As a byproduct, this bridge will offer our road cyclists the biggest training "hill" in our neck of the woods as well as a fantastic view for our future organized bicycle rides (such as the Endless Summer Watermelon Ride)!

Lastly, Nassau County has changed the telephone number to call in trail hazards. See Contact Us and the updated trail signs for the new number.

So, all in all our North Florida communities will soon offer even more great outdoor opportunities and Amelia Island is getting closer to becoming the best and safest place to walk, run and cycle in Florida!

Ride Safely,
Mike Pikula
President,
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.

 

TWO WHEELING ON AMELIA ISLAND, MAY 25, 2016

Folio Weekly article about cycling on Amelia Island. "On Amelia Island, riders can reach picturesque parks, coastal maritime forests and sandy beaches along the Amelia Island Trail...Fort Clinch State Park ... Egans Creek Greenway ..." http://folioweekly.com/PEDAL-PUSHERS,15386

 

AMELIA ISLAND TRAILS UPDATE, MARCH, 2016

map of proposed Simmons Trail Hi Everyone,
We have a few topics of interest to share with you. First, the design contract for the 2.2 mile Simmons Trail has been awarded by FDOT to Element Engineering. However, recent drainage issues in the Isle de Mai subdivision, just to the north of part of the proposed trail route, have created some concern and may add complexity to the design. We are hopeful that a design can be achieved that will enable this long-anticipated trail to be built without exacerbating any localized flooding in the subdivision. Stand by for more information on this one!

If you have cycled the Amelia Island Trail recently, you have likely noticed some things missing... lots of signs! With collaboration between AIT supporters, Nassau County Officials and FDOT Officials, the signage alongside the trail is being adjusted to reduce sign "clutter." Specifically, many of the "No Motor Vehicles Allowed" signs have been removed or relocated, and many of the "Stop" signs for trail users have been changed to diminutive "Yield" signs. All posts have been shortened to put the signs at eye level for cyclists and walkers. All trail rules still apply and motor vehicles are still prohibited on the trail.

Friends of the Amelia Island Trail has recently partnered with the North Florida Bicycle Club, and leased space to display a "Bicycle Safety Billboard" for motorists. Although I am not a big fan of billboards, this one conveys an important message to motorists, and should help improve safety for cyclists on the AIT. It is located at the roundabout at S. Fletcher and First Coast Highway near Flash Foods, right where the AIT crosses First Coast Highway. For the first few months it will be on the east side of the sign, and we hope to later relocate it to the west side for maximum exposure.

Next, an update on the Timucuan Trail segments from Craig Teal, FDOT Project Manager.
The Shad Creek to New Ft George Trailhead segment is complete, but there will be a "fast-track project" to address some localized flooding. New Ft George Trailhead north to Huguenot Park segment, design is 60% complete, but not yet funded for construction. Huguenot Park north to Ft George Inlet Bridge segment, design is also 60% complete, but not yet funded for construction. Ft George Inlet Bridge north to Little Talbot Island State Park segment, construction bids open in April 2016. Replacement of Myrtle Creek and Simpson Creek Bridges segment, preliminary engineering is complete, design phase is starting now. Although the design issue with the pedestrian crosswalk between the Sawpit Creek Boat Ramp and the existing boardwalk was resolved last year and March 31, 2016 was cited as an anticipated completion date, no construction is yet evident and access to the boardwalk is still prohibited. The City of Jacksonville, which is doing that work on behalf of FDOT, has not provided an update on their progress. Recall that the Timucuan Trail connects to the AIT at the south end of Amelia Island.

Of great interest to our road cycling community, the St Johns River Ferry returned to service this month after a lengthy break for inspection, maintenance and repair and is now operating on its usual schedule. Slip restoration is still in progress but does not affect the ferry operation. This is great news as the spring and summer seasons are typically very busy for our touring cyclists as well as our local riders. The ferry is an integral part of the East Coast Greenway and provides a safe and direct passage across the St Johns River for riders going either north or south along Florida’s east coast. Notable on the Jean Ribault, the East Coast Greenway logos which were on the ship’s bridge have been moved to the fore and aft areas of the ship which makes them more visible to ferry customers as they depart the ship. Replacing the ECG logos on the bridge of the ferry is the logo for the Jacksonville Transportation Authority (JTA). That also is good news, as that tells all aboard that the JTA has accepted some responsibility for the ferry and its operation. Since the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) gave up responsibility to the City of Jacksonville, there has been much uncertainty about the ferry’s future. Seeing the JTA logo on the vessel is an indication the ownership and funding issues are now closer to resolution.

Just south of the ferry slip, the new high-span bridge on Heckscher Drive over Sisters Creek is nearing completion. According to the construction supervisor, the bridge will be completed and open to all by June, 2016. This new high-span bridge eliminates the draw-span and will include accomodations for pedestrians and cyclists. It will significantly improve cycling safety especially for the next iteration of the NFBC’s Endless Summer Watermelon Ride scheduled for Sunday, September 11, 2016. Who says we don’t have any hills in North Florida!

Ride safely and be sure to offer a "Thank You" wave to our courteous motorists on Amelia Island!

Mike Pikula
President,
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.

For earlier news, see News Archive

 

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