Construction begins to link recreational trails

Pasco County’s engineering services had an event on Oct. 30 to celebrate the construction of the new Starkey Gap Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail that will link the Starkey and Suncoast Trails in Pasco County to the Pinellas Trail.

Construction of the new multi-use 2.4 mile-trail is expected to be completed in the summer of 2019.

Some cyclists were among those gathered to celebrate the beginning of construction of the Starkey Gap Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail. (Courtesy of Pasco County)

Once the segment is finished, it will provide connectivity to a trail that’s now more than 100 miles and continues to grow.

Construction of the Starkey Gap Trail is being funded and managed by the Florida Department of Transportation. After the trail is built, Pasco County will assume management of the trail.

This section of the trail is the last link of the Coast to Coast Connector Trail to be built in Pasco County. Once the Coast to Coast Connector Trail is completed, the network will stretch approximately 250 miles  — from St. Petersburg to Titusville.

Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey, who has played an instrumental role in addressing the need for recreational trails in Pasco, and across Florida, commented on the importance of this and other trail projects during an interview with The Laker/Lutz News.

“Before there ever was a Coast-to-Coast, we had this wonderful trail through Starkey Wilderness Park, which is a real jewel and it connects to the Suncoast Trail, which takes you all of the way up to Citrus County.

“The experiences on both trails are different, but they’re very special to serious cyclists.

Pasco County Commissioner Kathryn Starkey has a keen interest in linking Florida’s recreational trails together. She spoke during a recent event to celebrate the beginning of construction for the Starkey Gap Bicycle and Pedestrian Trail that will link the Starkey and Suncoast Trails in Pasco County to the Pinellas Trail.

“And then, you have the Pinellas Trail, which is a real economic driver for communities along that trail. It’s world famous.

“And, it just made so much sense to connect the two,” Starkey said.

She noted that she served on Florida’s Greenways and Trails Council, under governors Jeb Bush, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott.

While serving on that council during Bush’s administration, she said she learned about trails all over the state, and it just made sense to link those trails.

She was involved in linking the Starkey Trail to the Suncoast Trail, which provided a 100-mile trail, she said.

After that, she got started on working on the Starkey Gap link.

The Starkey Gap project will build a new 2.4-mile long multi-use trail from the Pasco/Pinellas County line to the southern end of the Starkey Trail, north of State Road 54 in Pasco County.

The trail will follow the Duke Energy right of way to State Road 54, west along SR 54 to Starkey Boulevard and then north to Starkey Trail.

The construction cost for the project is estimated at $2,615,000, according to a Florida Department of Transportation fact sheet. The work will be done by D.A.B. Constructors Inc., the fact sheet says.

Published November 7, 2018

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