County utility lines to be relocated in preparation for construction of Clark Road and Bee Ridge Road overpasses for Legacy Trail

Contract for restroom facility at Culverhouse Nature Park, which will serve Legacy Trail users and others, wins County Commission approval

This graphic shows the locations where the overpasses will be constructed. Image courtesy Sarasota County

Taking yet another step to facilitate the completion of the North Extension of The Legacy Trail, the Sarasota County Commission has approved $727,165 to cover the cost of relocating water and sewer lines so the planned overpasses can be constructed at Clark and Bee Ridge roads in Sarasota.

The board’s unanimous approval came in its vote on most of the routine business items on its Oct. 26 Consent Agenda.

A staff memo reminded the commissioners that, on April 23, 2019, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) agreed to assume responsibility for the design and construction of the pedestrian overpasses. “Final changes to the FDOT Work Program, to incorporate this decision, occurred in July 2019,” the memo added.

The county has water and sewer lines within the FDOT rights of way at both the Clark Road and Bee Ridge Road sites that could pose problems in association with the bridge construction, the memo said.

In May, Nicole Rissler, director of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department (PRNR), told the commissioners that FDOT plans to begin work on the overpasses in November 2022, with completion anticipated in November 2024.

This is the chart in the FDOT 5 Year Work Program, as of Nov. 2, showing details about the overpass projects. Image courtesy FDOT

In related news, the commission on Oct. 26 also approved a $548,400 contract with A2 Group Inc. of Bradenton to construct a restroom and a parking area compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at the Culverhouse Nature Park on Palmer Ranch. The park previously was the terminus of The Legacy Trail from Venice, before two of the segments of the North Extension were completed earlier this year.

The 82-acre park, which is located at 7301 McIntosh Road in Sarasota, has not had a restroom facility, a staff memo explained. The project the board members approved — also with their Consent Agenda vote — will include the construction of sidewalks “and associated stormwater improvements,” the memo says. “Capacity at the Park will be increased as a result of these improvements,” the memo added.

Weather permitting, the memo noted, construction will begin this month, and the project will be substantially complete in April 2022.

In July 2011, the Culverhouse family donated to the county the land where the park stands, the memo added. The Culverhouses are the developers of Palmer Ranch.

A year earlier — in July 2010 — the County Commission formally approved a master plan for the park, the memo pointed out.

A graphic shows the location of Culverhouse Nature Park, south of Sawyer Loop Road. Image from Google Maps

Funding for the restroom and parking area will come out of North County Parks Impact Fees, the memo said.

A2 Group was one of three companies to bid on the project, according to documents in the Oct. 26 agenda packet. The others were Boromei Construction Inc. of Tampa and Tampa Contracting Services Inc. of Port Charlotte. Although Boromei bid less than the A2 Group — $519,009.10 — it was “deemed non responsive for not submitting [the] minimum number of references,” a county Procurement Department document explained.

And in other Legacy Trail news: On Oct. 22, county staff announced that the playground at the Ashton Trailhead for the North Extension of the Legacy Trail was almost fully installed. A grand opening for that facility is planned for Nov. 30, the county update said.

This is the playground at the Ashton Trailhead as of Oct. 22. Image courtesy Sarasota County

That trailhead also will include an event field, parking, a restroom facility and picnic shelters, the update said.

During an Aug. 26 Facebook Live update, Rissler, the county’s PRNR director, noted that the playground will be “pretty extensive.”

The Ashton Trailhead also will have pads, Rissler said, so staff will “be able to rotate different food trucks” on the site after that project has been completed.

Work is continuing, as well, on the Sarasota Springs Trailhead, which will be located on Webber Street in Sarasota, and on the Pompano Trailhead, next to the Sarasota County Fairgrounds and the Babe Ruth Baseball Complex.

The Sarasota Springs Trailhead will have a smaller playground than the Ashton facility, Rissler pointed out on Aug. 26, but it will have restrooms.

This Oct. 26 graphic shows details about the timeline for completion of Legacy Trail projects, including the three segments of the North Extension from Culverhouse Nature Park to downtown Sarasota. Image courtesy Sarasota County

The Pompano facilities will include a youth bicycle safety course; 12 dedicated, lighted pickleball courts; a playground for children ages 5 to 12; restrooms and a community meeting room, as approved by the County Commission in May 2020.

The Sarasota Springs Trailhead is slated to open by the end of this year, with the Pompano Trailhead scheduled for completion in the spring of 2022, according to a staff graphic in the Oct. 26 commission meeting packet.