Osprey Junction Trailhead of Legacy Trail to get improvements, including a small restroom, thanks to County Commission vote

County staff urging Trail users and motorists to be cautious at street crossings

This map shows the location of the Osprey Junction Trailhead. Image courtesy Sarasota County

On Jan. 11, the Sarasota County Commission voted unanimously to approve a $1,339,800 contract with the A2 Group Inc. of Port Charlotte to construct a small restroom and undertake other upgrades to the Osprey Junction Trailhead of The Legacy Trail.

Just two days later, on Jan. 13, Leon Thibeaut of Sarasota, a member of the county’s Tourist Development Council (TDC) and a director of the Friends of the Legacy Trail, pointed to a new record for the number of users of The Legacy Trail, with two segments of the North Extension and the Ashton Trailhead having been completed in 2021.

That comment prompted County Commissioner Nancy Detert, who chairs the advisory board, to note that the Trail is one of the top reasons people are moving to the county. “People love it,” she said. “They’re amazed by it.

As documented by Steve Martin of the nonprofit Friends of the Legacy Trail, the total number of users in 2021 was 479,043. That is almost 17% higher than the previous record-breaking figure — 409,545 in 2020, as shown in Martin’s chart.

This is the Friends of the Legacy Trail chart showing Trail usage over the past five years. To learn about how the figures are provided, visit the Friends website. Image courtesy Friends of the Legacy Trail

(The Friends of the Legacy Trail also provides an in-depth report, written by Martin in June 2020, explaining how he arrives at his figures.)

The Osprey Junction Trailhead contract award was one of 36 routine business items on the County Commission’s Jan. 11 Consent Agenda. The project also will entail an improved parking lot and a grass overflow parking area, sidewalks, picnic areas, stormwater improvements, and landscaping, as noted in a staff memo provided to the board in advance of the meeting. “Parking upgrades and accessibility to the new visitor’s center are also planned,” the memo noted.

Located at 939 East Bay St. in Osprey, the 10-acre neighborhood park serves as one of numerous trailheads for The Legacy Trail.

The project is expected to get underway this month and to be substantially completed in July, “weather permitting,” the staff memo added.

The A2 Group was one of three firms that bid on the initiative. The others were Halfacre Construction Co. of Sarasota ($1,450,375.30) and Wright Construction Group Inc. of Fort Myers ($1,889,800), according to a Procurement Department document in the agenda materials for the Jan. 11 meeting.

Additionally, on Jan. 14, county staff released a video recorded on Dec. 29, 2021 that featured an update on the North Extension of The Legacy Trail to Payne Park in Sarasota, as well as the North Port Connector from Venice.

Jon Robinson, manager of natural areas and trails for the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, reported that county staff expects the third and final stretch of the North Extension — from Bahia Vista Street to Payne Park — to be opened in March. The same month, he added, staff believes the Sarasota Springs Trailhead, which will stand at 4012 Webber St., will open, too.

Then, in the summer, the Pompano Trailhead (601 Pompano Ave. in Sarasota) should be completed, Robinson pointed out. That will be adjacent to Babe Ruth Park, which stands at 185 N. Pompano Ave., and it will be close to the Sarasota Fairgrounds, he noted.

A construction crew works on a Legacy Trail crossing at Tuttle Avenue in Sarasota, where the railroad track already has been removed. Among the improvements planned is a traffic signal to facilitate safe bicycle and pedestrian passage across Tuttle, Sarasota County staff says. Photo courtesy Sarasota County

The North Port Connector should be completed this fall, Robinson said.

Megan Eidel, manager of trails for the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, also noted that improvements are underway at Culverhouse Nature Park on Palmer Ranch, which was the terminus of the Trail before the North Extension projects began.

On Oct. 26, 2021, the County Commission approved a $548,400 contract with A2 Group to construct a restroom and a parking area compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) at Culverhouse Nature Park.

The 82-acre park, which is located at 7301 McIntosh Road in Sarasota, has not had a restroom facility, an Oct. 26, 2021 county staff memo explained. The project that the commissioners approved also includes the construction of sidewalks “and associated stormwater improvements,” the memo said. “Capacity at the Park will be increased as a result of these improvements,” the memo added.

Weather permitting, the memo noted, construction would be substantially complete in April 2022.

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

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

During the December 2021 Legacy Trail update, Robinson also noted that the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) originally had scheduled the start of construction of the overpasses of Clark Road and Bee Ridge Road for 2024. However, given the fact that county staff has put such a priority on completion of the new Trail segments, FDOT’s latest plans call for those overpasses to be finished in 2024.

“I know that’s an amenity that will be huge to the enjoyment of the Trail,” Eidel responded.

How to use two types of road-crossing signals

With increasing use of The Legacy Trail, thanks in part to the new segments, Sarasota County staff is working to ensure the safety of bicyclists and pedestrians.

On The Legacy Trail, a county advisory explains, users will find four different types of road crossing treatments “to help ensure a safe experience for both trail users and motorists,” county staff pointed out in a late-December 2021 advisory.

These include stop signs, traffic signals, Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) and High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK)/Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons.

The following details explain how to use each of these.

Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFB) 

This graphic explains details about the operation of an RRFB crossing. Image courtesy Sarasota County

For Trail users:

  • Press the button to activate the RRFB. Wait for the lights to begin flashing, indicating to motorists that a pedestrian is ready to cross.
  • Make eye contact with motorists to be sure traffic is stopped before entering the crosswalk.
  • Look both ways to ensure vehicles are stopped and aware of your presence as you safely cross the intersection.

For motorists:

  • Slow down and anticipate Trail users crossing when approaching an RRFB.
  • The RRFB will flash when a Trail user presses the button and activates it.
  • Always stop before the stop bar (line) pavement markings.
  • Never stop in or block a crosswalk.
  • Always stop for pedestrians entering or in a crosswalk.
  • Remain stopped for pedestrians regardless of activated RRFBs.
  • Wait for pedestrians to completely clear the crosswalk on your side of the road and for anyone crossing into your lanes from the other direction.

High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk (HAWK)/Pedestrian Hybrid Beacons 

This graphic offers details about navigating a HAWK crossing. Image courtesy Sarasota County

For Trail users:

  • Push the button. Stop and wait for the “WALK” signal.
  • Make eye contact with motorists to be sure traffic is stopped before entering the crosswalk.
  • Look both ways to ensure vehicles are stopped and drivers are aware of your presence as you safely cross the intersection.

For motorists:

  • If no lights are present, proceed as normal.
  • If the signal is yellow flashing, slow down. A Trail user has activated the push button.
  • If the signal is solid yellow, prepare to stop.
  • If the signal has two red solid lights, stop for the Trail user.
  • If the signal has a flashing red light, stop and proceed with caution if the intersection is clear.

1 thought on “Osprey Junction Trailhead of Legacy Trail to get improvements, including a small restroom, thanks to County Commission vote”

  1. Great article, thanks! There’s so much good news in there, especially about getting those overpasses done by 2024. It’s wonderful that the county commissioners have made the completion of the Extension such a priority.

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