By Rachel Christian

Staff Writer

 

Construction on one of the largest recreational trails in Kissimmee is now underway. Once complete, the Single Creek Regional Trail (SCRT) will connect into a larger trail network stretching from Kissimmee to Wekiva Springs State Park, and from Orlando to Mascotte.

Photo by City of Kissimmee

 

 

 

 

Background

Local officials have been talking about this trail for decades, according to Randy Schrader, a senior planner for the city.

The ball finally got rolling in April 2011, when President Obama launched America’s Great Outdoors initiative. The Department of the Interior selected SCRT to receive national recognition in a document titled “America’s Great Outdoors Fifty State Report.”

The national spotlight and funding funneled through MetroPlan Orlando – a regional planning organization that helps draw down federal money for local projects –  pushed SCRT forward about three years ago.

The city of Kissimmee wrapped up phase one in November 2016. The first stretch of SCRT spans from Hoagland Boulevard near the Kissimmee Gateway Airport through Shingle Creek Regional Park and finally, Pioneer Village, located about a mile-and-a-half north of U.S. Highway 192.

This was the first of nine segments of the trail. Since then, the city has launched two moret segments – Arrow Ridge and Toho Vista.

Photo by City of Kissimmee

Work on Arrow Ridge began in May and will add 1,800 feet of connecting trails from Pioneer Village and behind the Tapestry development via a forested path alongside the creek. Construction is expected to wrap up by the fall.

Also in May, the state paid $1.08 million for 33 acres of land needed to build another key segment of SCRT known as Yates Connector, though funding to actually build this segment still needs to be secured.

According to Schrader, Kissimmee chose to build the trail in segments to make funding easier.

What’s new?

Work on Toho Vistas, the latest segment of SCRT, began July 23 and will ultimately connect with a residential bike path on Clyde Avenue and then Kissimmee Lakefront Park beyond.

The latest expansion extends for just under a mile, and runs through an undeveloped, natural area along Lake Tohopekaliga.

The new segment will also include a 102-foot bridge over the West City Canal. This segment of the trail is expected to be complete by next winter.

According to Schrader, funding is “in the pipeline” for the fourth segment known as Toho Bend, a much smaller stretch that will improve connectivity around the lake.

newspaper-4×4-color-whole-trail

What’s the big picture?

SCRT will act as a north-south route to larger existing regional trails in Central Florida, including the West Orange Trail and the Pine Hills Trail Corridor. The goal is for these trails to complete the Coast-to-Coast Connector, a 250-mile winding course that will span St. Petersburg to the Canaveral National Seashore.

 

What’s next?

There’s no set date for the completion of SCRT.

Schrader said three of the upcoming segments, including Osceola Parkway and the Orange-Osceola county line, will be time-consuming and expensive. A bridge across Osceola Parkway could drive the cost of that segment up to $20 million, he said.

Schrader estimates it could cost upwards of $50 million to complete all trail segments and noted that parts of it still need to be designed.

The city has used grants from MetroPlan Orlando, Florida Department of Environmental Protection Preservation 2000 (now known as Florida Forever), the Florida Community Trust, the Office of Greenways and Trails and the Save Our Rivers program to make the trail a reality.

 

Quoteable quote & takeaway

“It’s a long, intricate process that involves multiple agencies, groups, design features, right-of-ways, land acquisition and funding. It’s making good progress, but it’s a slow process.”  – City of Kissimmee Senior Planner Randy Schrader