Trends Summer 2018 | Page 14

“ It ’ s taken 13 years to do all that ,” Myers said . “ While I was working on the project , my project manager at FDOT was out on maternity leave at one point . Last year our paths crossed outside of work , and I ran into her at a Florida gymnastics meet , and her daughter is 10 now .”
Myers has worked alongside Amy Williams , project manager at the Florida Department of Transportation ( FDOT ) for this trail project throughout the entire process . “ Daryl has been a key member for this trail project ,” Williams said . “ He ’ s been involved since the beginning . It ’ s been very helpful to have someone who ’ s been there from the get-go and to have that consistency throughout the duration of the project .”
The asphalt trail was constructed along an abandoned railroad right-of-way , with some portions adjacent to city streets and others in wooded areas . Ayres Associates also designed the Armstrong Park Trailhead for St . Johns County , a public facility near the trail that provides a welcome center , restroom facilities , parking lot , and learning / education center . Eventually , the trail will tie into three area trail networks : Palatka to Lake Butler State Trail ; St . Johns River to Sea Loop , and East Coast Greenway . Once the Palatka-to-St . Augustine trail is completed , it will be part of the 260 miles of multi-use trails that make up the River to Sea Loop . “ It ’ s essentially a network of trails ,” Myers said . “ Every segment is one little part of the greater plan .”
This greater plan came to fruition after FDOT decided to replace the abandoned rail corridor , formerly known as the Florida East Coast Railway , with the trail . “ The trail has a great deal of historical significance ,” Myers said .
In 1885 , Henry Morrison Flagler moved to St . Augustine to build hotels and purchase short line railroads in a region that had been lacking in infrastructure and transportation facilities before then . The outlying farming communities of Hastings and Armstrong were a local source to provide vegetables and other produce . The railroad ( that is now the Palatka-to-St . Augustine trail ) carried this fresh produce and other goods to and from St . Augustine more than 130 years ago . Interpretive signage along the trail tells the rich history of these communities and how the railroad made their expansion possible .
When the railroad right-of-way was abandoned , FDOT seized the opportunity to purchase the property , recognizing how it could streamline the process for developing a trail replacement . “ The abandoned railroad right-of-way is great for trails – it ’ s straight , fairly level , and they don ’ t have a lot of obstructions or cross traffic ,” Myers said .