Thursday, June 28, 2007

Three visions for Black Creek Trail

Planners working on a proposed extension of the Black Creek Trail (map in sidebar, right) offered three concepts for public comment last night, and there is much to like in each of them.
  • The simplest is to build the 10-foot asphalt path on the east side of Black Creek Canal between SW 184th and 160th streets, then cross to the south and west bank out to the Everglades Levee on the L-31 N canal. Of the three, this would be the shortest and present the least interaction with motor traffic. This is called Concept 1.
  • In Concept 2, the path would leave the canal bank at the CSX railroad crossing, at SW 168th Lane, follow street rights-of-way to Chuck Pezoldt Park, turn north along SW 157th Avenue, then return to the canal's west bank at SW 147th Lane. That would bypass many of the canal-side residents who have objected to the trail being built -- yet it would place the trail within walking distance of more people. On both counts, I call that smart politics.
  • The hybrid Concept 3 would use the east and north canal bank as far as SW 157th Avenue, then cross to the west side on a bridge near 147th Lane and return to the north side from 162nd Avenue out to the Everglades Levee. In a feature attractive to equestrians who already ride the levee and the Krome Trail, this concept would leave unpaved the existing dirt road south of the Black Creek out to 162nd Avenue -- the west side of West Kendall District Park. Mountain bikers would like that, too. In this concept, also, kids at Jack Gordon Elementary School in the Country Walk neighborhood would have easy access to the trail. A downside is the cost of building two bridges.
All three concepts include trailhead parking in the West Kendall park and improved access to existing parking in the Larry & Penny Thompson Park near the south end of the trail extension. I could not learn any cost estimates last night; planning isn't that far along. A substantial chunk of federal highway money has been allocated for this project, but the county will likely need to use some local park funds, too.

I was surprised by the sparse attendance -- both of bicyclists and trail neighbors. Equestrians may have outnumbered both camps. One may surmise that the opposition subsided as it became evident how the planners at Kimley-Horn and Associates were addressing residents' concerns.

Riders were mainly represented by Tom Burton, advocacy chairman of the Everglades Bicycle Club, and by Eric Tulberg of the county's Bicycle-Pedestrian Advisory Committee. Me too, of course. If you know why more of us weren't there, please let me know.

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