Gainesville Trail Connection Preserved (FL)

March 27, 2008
Florida

Tallahassee, FL, 3/27/2008: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) Office of Greenways and Trails and The Trust for Public Land, a national nonprofit land conservation organization, announced today the preservation of a 2.3-mile rail corridor that will bring a popular bicycle/pedestrian trail into downtown Gainesville.

The corridor along 6th street will connect the downtown area with employment centers, neighborhoods, and the University of Florida. It passes right by the city police department and has long been a priority acquisition for both the City of Gainesville and the DEP Office of Greenways and Trails because of its tremendous potential for development as a recreational trail as well as its connectivity to existing trails.

"Building a beautiful multi-purpose trail with places to stop along the way will really help this area of the city reinvent itself by connecting new apartment complexes and colleges, as well as other trails such as the Hawthorne, Waldo and Depot trails," said Pegeen Hanrahan, Mayor of Gainesville. "Preserving this corridor would never have been possible without the help of The Trust for Public Land."

The trail's preservation was a multi-year effort by a number of partners. The entire corridor was owned by CSX Transportation, Inc. (CSX). The Trust for Public Land began working with CSX to protect the corridor in 2004, and completed its acquisition late yesterday. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Division of State Lands, on behalf of the DEP Office of Greenways and Trails, then purchased the property from TPL. The City of Gainesville will be the long-term manager of the property.

"It's exciting to see a project that we have worked on for such a long time come to a successful conclusion," said Cynthia Radford, Land Acquisition Administrator for DEP's Office of Greenways and Trails. "Along with our dedicated partners in this process, we share the City of Gainesville's enthusiasm for a trail which has significant opportunities for recreation and alternative transportation."

"The incredible public benefit this corridor will provide to the community makes dealing with the numerous multi-year hurdles all worth it," said TPL project manager Doug Hattaway. "This project could not have been completed without the perseverance of all the parties involved."

The Gainesville effort is the latest in a series of rail-corridor projects that TPL has completed around the state. Other recent rail-trail projects by TPL include an extension of the Pinellas Trail in St. Petersburg, the Legacy Trail in Sarasota County, and the Leesburg Recreational Trail in the City of Leesburg.

The Trust for Public Land is a national nonprofit land conservation organization that conserves land for people to enjoy as parks, gardens, historic sites, rural lands, and other natural areas, ensuring livable communities for generations to come. Since its founding in 1972, TPL has helped protect more than 2 million acres of land in 46 states. In Florida, TPL has protected more than 300 sites - over 200,000 acres at a market value of about $500 million. The Trust for Public Land depends on the support and generosity of individuals, foundations, and businesses to achieve our land for people mission. For more information please call 850-222-7911.