AIT NEWS ARCHIVE

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.

AMELIA ISLAND TRAILS UPDATE - JANUARY, 2016

The pace of improvements to our local trail system is accelerating! Let’s begin with an update on the pedestrian crossing on Big Talbot Island. You’ll recall the boardwalk segment of the Timucuan Trail at the north end of Big Talbot Island (which connects to the Amelia Island Trail) has apparently been completed for well over a year but has remained closed to the public. That delay was due primarily to concerns about the design of a safe means to cross Heckscher Dr. between the parking lot at the Sawpit Creek Boat Ramp and the end of the boardwalk. The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) entertained a variety of well-intentioned but impractical proposals from the public in that period ranging from tunnels to overpasses to speed bumps to speed limit reductions to fences. In the end, FDOT engineers determined that the originally-proposed high visibility crosswalk will be constructed but the actual crossing location will be moved south approximately 30 yards to better meet ADA standards. Construction of the crosswalk with flashing beacons and warning signs is expected to be completed by March, 2016. Upon completion we expect the boardwalk will be cleaned up and opened to the public. It will then connect over 10 miles of contiguous off-road trail access from Peters Point Park on Amelia Island almost to Simpsons Creek on Big Talbot Island. Other connecting segments were discussed in a previous article.

The next construction on the Timucuan Trail on Little Talbot Island will begin later this year. This $2.3million, 7/10 mile segment will connect the bridge across Ft George Inlet to the south bicycle entrance of Little Talbot Island State Park.

Statewide, trails grabbed the public's attention recently when the 2015 Florida Legislature approved an annual appropriation of $25mil of trail funding for the SUNTrail program. FY16 funds will not be spent but will be rolled over so that $50mil will be available in FY2017. Much of that will be dedicated to the high priority completion of the Coast-to-Coast Connector (C2C); but a portion each year will go toward other trail projects. While the criteria for award of the remaining funds are not yet finalized, draft criteria put priority toward trails of national, regional or statewide significance. Nassau County, City of Fernandina Beach and AIT planners have determined that our competitive nominee should be the completion of the next four miles of the Amelia Island Trail between its current end north to highway A1A alongside the Amelia Island Parkway; it’s part of the East Coast Greenway, a National Trail. We’re making good progress with trails on the south end of Amelia Island, and we also plan to focus on finding the best route for a multiuse trail connection northward toward the Centre Street/Main Beach corridor. If you have ideas, let us know.

The Simmons Trail, which will run 2.2 miles from S. Fletcher Av. to the city ball fields at the end of Bailey Road, is on the books for design in FY16 with construction in FY17/18. We have been advised that the developer of Crane Island will install a continuation of the trail onto Crane Island. An anonymous donor has pledged to match at the 50% level all donations to Friends of the Amelia Island Trail which are designated for Simmons Trail amenities between January and May 31st, 2016 (see related article on this website).

The Friends of the Amelia Island Trail worked with Nassau County Officials last year to create a plan to reduce the number and size of the signs on the AIT. That proposal was then sent to FDOT. FDOT has approved that proposal and awarded a permit for the work to Nassau County. We anticipate work will begin in mid-March 2016 just after the annual Concours de Elegance is completed.

The North Florida Transportation Planning Office has funded a study of bicycle and pedestrian challenges and opportunities on Amelia Island; it will recommend improvements. This study will be similar to one done for St. Augustine last year. You may see representatives of Sprinkle Consulting on the trail in coming months.

The semi-annual meeting of the Amelia Island Trail Team was held on January 14th. The approved minutes will be posted on this website (see meetings). The next meeting is planned for July, 2016; date/time/place will be announced.

The Amelia Island Trail has been remarkably successful since its completion in 2013 and has received much favorable publicity. Most recently, First Coast Magazine has published an article with photos in its January edition.

Enjoy walking, running and cycling in our beautiful coastal environment!

Mike Pikula
President,
Friends Of The Amelia Island Trail, Inc.

 

FIRST COAST MAGAZINE ARTICLE ABOUT BIKE TRAILS - JANUARY 19, 2016
"Bike Trails" by Michael Howerton, photos by Craig O'Neal.
Published in First Coast Magazine, January, 2016.
Posted with permission from the Publisher.
The link to the online version is: http://firstcoastmagazine.com/news/bike-trail/

 

FRIENDS OF AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL FUND RAISER UNDERWAY WITH CONTRIBUTION MATCH - DECEMBER 2015

Our fundraiser is underway for the Simmons Trail project on Amelia Island. As you probably know, Nassau County has received a grant for design and construction of the Simmons Trail, a 2.2 mile paved, multi-use path to be built along the Simmons Road ROW from S. Fletcher Av. to the City ball fields near the airport off Bailey Rd. Design is planned for FY2016 with construction in FY2017/18.

For every $1 you donate and designate for the Simmons Trail, a generous anonymous Match Donor will contribute 50 cents. Our Match Donor will do that until May 31, 2016, donating up to $5,000 of matching funds. The funds raised for this project will be kept separate from our Amelia Island Trail general operating funds and earmarked for the Simmons Trail project for trail improvements such as benches, bike racks, map kiosks, and special signs, which are not covered by the grant. With your donation, the Friends of the Amelia Island Trail will install the improvements on this new trail once it is completed.

Write your check to "Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc.", and put "Simmons Trail Match" on the "for" line. Mail it to Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc., POB 16113, Fernandina Beach, FL, 32035. Friends of the Amelia Island Trail, Inc., is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so you may also accrue some federal tax benefit with your donation. This is a good reason to donate before the end of this year.

Please tell your friends about this super opportunity to support our community and help us raise funds for this future trail project! Call me at 904-556-1098 if you have questions or read more about us on this web site. We appreciate your help and support.

Mike Pikula
President,
Friends Of The Amelia Island Trail, Inc.

 

NFBC WHEELSPEAK ARTICLE ABOUT AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL SOCIAL RIDE - DECEMBER, 2015
The North Florida Bike Club December 2015 Wheelspeak newsletter features an article about a social bicycle ride group that rides on Wednesdays on the AIT. This ride is popular for slower or beginning riders as well as veterans more interested in socializing than speed.

 

NEWS LEADER ARTICLE ABOUT AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL - NOVEMBER 27, 2015
Hit Amelia Island Trail for after-meal Action

 

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL UPDATE - OCTOBER, 2015

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.

The pedestrian crossing from Sawpit Creek boat ramp parking area to the existing boardwalk (which is not yet open) near the Nassau River is not a part of these 9 projects.   However, the FDOT did make a separate presentation of their (delayed) final plan for the pedestrian crossing to the City of Jacksonville's Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee on October 1st.  Essentially, FDOT has planned a high-visibility crosswalk between the parking lot on the west side of A1A near the boat ramp and the end of the boardwalk on the east side and they hope to have it completed sometime next year.


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.

PDF Link to FDOT Timucuan Trail Projects Presentation

EIGHT REASONS AMELIA ISLAND IS FLORIDAS BEST PLACE TO BIKE - AUGUST 5, 2015
See blog.ameliaisland.com/best-bike-ride-florida/ for the reasons why.

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 an Eagle Scout. 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.

Picture of new trail work along Heckscher in Jacksonville 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.

Picture of new trail work along Heckscher in JacksonvilleFurther 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!

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

 
  Great turnout for a social ride on the AIT!

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.

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


Eagle Scout Chris Matricia and father, Dan, on one of the new AIT benches

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL MAP KIOSK - APRIL 2014

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.

Mike Pikula


Information Kiosk at North Trailhead in Peters Point Beachfront Park

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL NEWS - MARCH, 2014

Our Amelia Island Trail (AIT) has been a tremendous success since it was completed last year. Every day our local residents and guests on Amelia Island enjoy a walk, run or ride on this beautiful trail. Thanks to the work of some dedicated volunteers, local and state officials, and donors our Trail is functioning just as designed and will provide many years of enjoyment. Here are a few bits of current information about the AIT and related activities:

  1. In October 2013, the 6.2 mile Amelia Island Trail was formally designated as part of the East Coast Greenway (ECG). When completed, the ECG will include 3,000 “trail-miles” from Northern Maine to Key West, Florida. The ECG, which traverses 15 states, is one of 16 trails in the National Millennium Trail System. The AIT is one of the first parts of the ECG established in Florida.
  2. Our volunteer team and Nassau County officials have submitted a formal request to the North Florida Transportation Planning Office (NFTPO) for funding of a four mile extension to the existing AIT.
  3. During 2013, Friends of the Amelia Island Trail sponsored two trail maintenance work days along the AIT. Volunteers collected trash and trimmed encroaching foliage.
  4. Nassau County and Fernandina Beach submitted another proposal in 2013 to the NFTPO to construct a 2.2 mile, paved, off-road trail from athletic fields at the end of Bailey Rd., to a beach access on S. Fletcher Av. It is scheduled for design/construction in 2016-2018.
  5. Other trail volunteers are planning additional trails on Amelia Island including an historic trail and an off-road trail through wooded areas.
  6. Segment 3 of the Timucuan Trail on Little Talbot Island will be completed in April and will connect with the AIT via the fishing bridge over Nassau Sound. Other segments are planned in Duval County.
  7. Combining the completed and planned 17.3 trail-miles in Duval, with the completed and planned 12.4 trail-miles in Nassau, we will someday have 29.7 traffic-free trail-miles available in our area.
  8. In recognition of the 1-year anniversary of the Amelia Island Trail, our volunteers will be conducting counts and surveys of trail users in May, 2014. This data will help us document trail activity and assist with future trail planning.
  9. Using funds raised through donations and T-shirt sales, Friends of the Amelia Island Trail will construct a Map/Information Kiosk at its northern trailhead (Peters Point Park) this spring.

Friends of the Amelia Island Trail will begin its 2014 Funding Campaign in March. Your continued support will be greatly appreciated as we ask for volunteers and for donations. I’ll see you on the trail!

Mike Pikula, President,
Friends of the Amelia Island Trail

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL
RIBBON CUTTING - MAY, 2013

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!

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL, CONSTRUCTION UPDATE BY MIKE PIKULA - APRIL 21, 2013

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.

Picture of patched pothole

AIT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE, APRIL 19, 2013

Major construction of the Trail is now complete, but some "finishing touches" are still under way. This week the contractor addressed a drainage issue by creating a concrete flume (see photos below) to drain rainwater off the trail near Enclave Manor Rd, just south of Orange Av. All safety railings are now in place and most painting and striping is complete. Flashing lights for pedestrian/bicycle crossings are now operable at Old Bluff Road and Amelia Island Parkway near the Ritz. Some special order signs for the trail have not yet arrived. The contractor has begun trail clean-up. The Florida Department of Transportation has scheduled their 99% site inspection for Tuesday, April 23rd. The results of that inspection will allow FDOT to determine if the Trail is ready to be accepted by the State. If deficiencies are noted, the contractor will be advised of them and given direction to correct them. From all appearances and from on-site feedback from the contractor's representatives, FDOT is expected to accept the Trail next week.

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!

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL (AIT) CONSTRUCTION UPDATE - MARCH 31, 2013

Work has continued this past week with a focus on the "finishing touches". More informational and traffic control signs have gone up, some more crosswalks were painted with the thick white paint, and some stop bars were painted across the right sides of the trail surface where stop signs are or will be installed. There are still more signs to be installed, guard rails to erect and paint to be applied, but completion is now very close. The FDOT Project Manager has scheduled the 95% FDOT inspection for Thursday, April 4th. Once that inspection is complete a "punch list" of any discrepancies will be produced and the contractor will begin addressing them. When this punch list is cleared we expect FDOT to open the trail for public use. Also last week J. B. Coxwell, the contractor for the project, poured asphalt on the 1100' Julia Street Connector Trail, and they are now preping it for completion for about the same time as the AIT. See photos below. Don't forget to "save the date" of Saturday, May 11, for the Opening Celebration at Peters Point Park.

CONSTRUCTION UPDATE - MARCH 24, 2013
Construction on the Amelia Island Trail continues. This past week much of the final detail work was accomplished including erection of more signs (No Motor Vehicles, Stop, Crossing, etc.), some painting, and installation of detectible warning surface pads at street crossings. Teams finished the signs and warning lights at Old Bluff Road (see photo) which is now fully operable (push to cross), and have installed the crossing lights (not yet operable) at the crossing of Amelia Island Parkway near the Ritz Carlton. Signs are not yet completed on all the trail, crosswalks and stop bars remain to be painted, and some drainage work remains near Orange Av. Barrels and "Road Closed" barricades remain in place as there is still work in progress. Although it is soooo tempting to ride the trail now, it is not yet open to the public. Not long, now! Don't forget to save the date of May 11 at 8:30am, for our Opening Celebration at Peters Point Park. Julia Street Connector Trail. Nassau County received easement authority from the Ritz Carlton Hotel to build a section of this new trail on Ritz property in order to avoid cutting trees. With this authority, J. B. Coxwell was given the "Go Ahead" to start work and ground was cleared last week. Construction on this paved, 1100' long, 7'-wide trail is now also under way. It will connect an existing paved sidewalk alongside the Amelia Island Parkway, and the American Beach Community Center, with the AIT. (see photo below).

AIT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE - MARCH 12, 2013
Trail construction continues as we close in on completion of the AIT. On Monday, March 11th, the FDOT held its 75% review with the prime contractor, J. B. Coxwell Construction. The news was almost all good. Mr. Eddie Green, Coxwell's Project Manager, let us know that he is pressing hard to complete the trail by late March or early April. All sections of the AIT will be opened on the same day; there will not be any phased opening of sections. Virtually all of the asphalt work is done, but there is still other work to do. The trail crossing near Old Bluff Road was begun on 3/11/13 which will include a slight widening of A1A, construction of a protected mid-street concrete curbing, pavement painting and installation of a push-to-cross flashing light. Other remaining work includes posting signage; repainting stop bars on crossing roads; installation of additional railings and pedestrian "detectible warning surfaces"; completion of some drainage repairs and curbing work; and asphalt finishing. Coxwell also plans to begin construction on the 700' connecting trail along Julia Street as soon as an easement from private property owners is received by Nassau County. This additional trail segment will connect the AIT with the existing sidewalk near the American Beach Community Center. Parts of the AIT received some "un-official" pedestrian traffic on Sunday, as Concours d' Elegance patrons walked from their cars to the event venue near the Ritz Carlton (see photo); construction in that area was on hold Saturday and Sunday just for the Concours. Although the entire trail will open for public use very soon, FDOT reminds us that the trail is still an active construction zone, and we must stay off of it so Coxwell can complete their tasks. A new date for the Opening Celebration was determined by the planning committee. The public event to celebrate the AIT opening will be held on Saturday, May 11 from 8:30-9am at Peters Point Park. See photos below:

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.

 

FERNANDINA BEACH BIKE MONTH PROCLAMATION - MAY 21, 2013

Tonight the Mayor of Fernandina Beach presented a Proclamation recognizing National Bicycle Month in Fernandina Beach. Accepting the Proclamation was Sallie McDonald, member of the North Florida Bicycle Club and local bicycle activist. Pictured below, from right to left are Mayor Sarah Pelican, and Sallie McDonald, and behind are Mike Pikula, Kevin Pryor (President NFBC), Phil Bowen, Don Eipert and Bob Wells. Also present, but not shown in the photo is Susan Taylor

 

 

 

Senator Bill Nelson's letter to AIT Celebration attendees, 5-11-2013

 

AMELIA ISLAND TRAIL TO HOLD OPENING CELEBRATION - MAY 11, 2013

Amelia Island Trail Users walking on trail during a sunny day Friends of the Amelia Island Trail (AIT) will host an Opening Celebration on Sat., May 11 at the northern trailhead inside Peters Point Beachfront Park to recognize and pay tribute to several public officials whose collaborative efforts with local citizens and area organizations, for more than a decade, played a vital role in making the newly constructed 6.2-mile trail a reality. The event will begin at 8:30 a.m. and will include a ribbon-cutting at 4600 Peters Point Road in Fernandina Beach.

The scenic, tree-lined AIT, which does not officially open until later this month, has already seen heavy usage by guests. The trail that initially runs adjacent to highway A1A for about one mile from the northern trailhead, near the Ritz Carlton Hotel, begins a game of “peek-a-boo” with A1A as it weaves in and out of the tree line, passing through the Omni Amelia Island Plantation and meandering to the southern trailhead at Amelia Island State Park. The AIT continues onward to Nassau Sound and ultimately merges with the actively expanding Timucuan Trail.

Together this pair helps implement Florida’s section of the East Coast Greenway and also assists in bridging the gaps within the vital Florida Greenways and Trails System network. Photo provided by Mike Pikula, Friends of the Amelia Island Trail

 

AIT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE- FEBRUARY 28, 2013

Construction continues at a brisk pace on the Amelia Island Trail with multiple crews in action. This recent week, all of the remaining surface/soil preparation of the trail route was completed and as of today, every part of the 6.2 mile trail from Amelia Island State Park to Peters Point Park has received at least one of the required three layers of asphalt. The photos below show what is probably the next-to-last truck load for the base (1st) layer of asphalt being delivered and spread between the Amelia Island Parkway near the Ritz Carlton, and Peters Point Rd. According to the FDOT Project Officer, the contractor has been working 7 days/week to make up for delays, and trail completion is now expected for late March or early April. Planning by local volunteers has begun for an opening ceremony (now expected to take place on/about April 27th, 2013) and for erecting our first of two large map kiosks at the trailheads. Reminder: the trail is still an active construction site and is not yet open for public use. See photos below dated 2/28/2013.

 

AIT CONSTRUCTION UPDATE - FEBRUARY 16, 2013

The FDOT Contractor, J B Coxwell Contracting, Inc., continues to make steady progress on the AIT. Clearing, grubbing and leveling continued along S. Fletcher AV north of Harris Teeter. Additional asphalt pouring took place along A1A from Harris Teeter to the south, including the tree canopy area on the A1A's west side near Baxter's Restaurant. Gaps between trail sections near the Omni Amelia Island Plantation are being marked and prepped for work. Sod laid recently is now greening up after recent rains. The AIT has reached the point where every driver and visitor is now taking notice and the trail is the topic at many dinner tables of island residents. Bicyclists should continue to stay off the trail as it is an active construction zone. Cyclists should also take note of traffic cones, heavy equipment entering and leaving the roadway across the bike lanes, and subsequent increased possibility of debris on the bike lanes.

LINKS TO OTHER NEWS

Nassau County 20 years of bicycle infrastructure improvement

The Bicycle Friendly Award (5,13,2013 press release)

'St. Johns River Ferry Crucial for Cyclists (FBA Messenger Spring 2013)

FDOT Leader has Passon for Bike/Ped Safety (FBA Messenger Spring 2013)

AIT to be Open Soon (FB News Leader 3/20/2013)

Amelia Island Up-And-Coming Spot (Money Magazine March 2013)

Work Continuing on AIT, (Florida Times Union 2/12/13)

AIT is Under Way (Florida Times Union 2/3/2013)

Bicycling On Amelia Island (Jan/Feb, 2013)

 

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