Crews will be removing 223 Australian pines along John Ringling Causeway
Drivers traveling on the John Ringling Causeway to and from St. Armands Key can expect limited lane closures beginning this week as work starts on the new Coon Key Multi-Use Recreational Trail (MURT), the City of Sarasota has announced.
In partnership with the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), the city will be constructing a 10-foot-wide, multi-use trail that will extend from the Coon Key Bridge to St. Armands Circle, a city news release explains. “The trail will provide an improved, safer multi-modal transportation option for pedestrians and bicyclists that connects the barrier islands with downtown and the future extension of the Legacy Trail,” the release adds.
As part of the project, crews will be removing Australian pines, an invasive species that can easily be toppled during a storm because of the trees’ shallow root systems, “presenting a serious safety hazard along this evacuation route,” the release points out. “A total of 223 Australian pines will be removed and replaced with 246 new trees of various native species as part of the project,” the release says.
Crews will begin tree removal on the south side of John Ringling Causeway and then move to the north side, the release notes. “To ensure the safety of workers and motorists, vehicular traffic will be reduced to one lane on whichever side of the road the crews are working. This work is anticipated to be completed by early December. Construction of the trail will follow and is not expected to significantly impact traffic,” the release points out.
The MURT project also includes the replacement of a 16-inch water main on the north side of the road, storm drain replacement and the installation of three bus shelters, the release notes. “The entire project is expected to take about 11 months to complete.”
The total project cost is $1.89 million, with about $830,000 funded by an FDOT grant, the release adds.