That doesn’t mean there weren’t challenges, however.
Designing around wetlands and wildlife was a big factor
to consider when it came time to construct the trail.
In fact, gopher tortoises, had to be protected during
“We didn’t end up having to relocate any gopher
tortoises and we avoided wetland impacts, which was a
good thing for the environment,” Myers said.
Coordinating trail design and construction efforts with
the FDOT structures office was also a challenge. The
design team had to systematize multiple projects at once,
including the design of the two pedestrian bridges that
were built as part of the trail, as well as coordinate a
midblock crossing of a four-lane divided highway.
“With the trail crossing a roadway with posted speeds
of 55 miles an hour, the midblock crossing had to be up
to the latest DOT standards,” Myers said. This required
that a HAWK (High-Intensity Activated Crosswalk) signal
be installed to increase pedestrian safety; when a
pedestrian pushes the crosswalk button, a flashing yellow
light that turns to solid yellow and then solid red signals
traffic to stop.
One of the more complex efforts was the collaboration
needed with the geotechnical engineer regarding the
soils underneath the trail.
“Pesticides and arsenic were used back in the day to
keep the weeds from growing near the train tracks,”
Williams said. “With this trail being built on a railbed, we
had to coordinate with FDOT’s environmental office so
the arsenic wouldn’t potentially spread when it came
time to dig up the soil.”
But the benefits of the trail replacement have far
outweighed any challenges.
“There are many health and economic benefits when
it comes to building a trail,” Myers said. “But there is
also a huge community benefit. Once the trail is
completed, there can be any number of planned events
by the community – trail rides or trail runs, which bring
people from across the state. It helps people get out and
The completion of the Palatka-to-St. Augustine State
Trail has been a much-anticipated event for not only
recreational users, but also for Myers.
“It will be rewarding to see a long project – both in
length and time – come to completion,” he said.
After almost 13 years in the making, Williams shares
“We are getting close to completing the last segment,”
Williams said. “Finishing the trail will feel like quite the