Two meetings update rails trails management plan

Diane and Bob Hungerford, snowbirds from Michigan, regularly enjoy sunshine and bike riding along Brevard County trails.

Like many who have discovered the East Central Florida Rails Trails, Bob and Diane Hungerford take advantage of the scenic path that stretches from Brevard County to Volusia County.

The Hungerfords, winter residents from Michigan, were feeling invigorated after a recent bike ride along the Brevard County portion of the trail.

“We love the trail. It’s wide and relatively flat. We biked 21 miles and had a great day,” he said.

The counties are always looking for ways to better manage the trail so that more people can take advantage of it. Recent meetings updated management plans.

Sarah Kraum, the senior transportation planner with the Space Coast Transportation Planning Organization, touts the benefits of local trails such as the East Central Regional Rail Trail.

“Brevard County trails have many advantages, such as motor vehicle-free transportation for walkers, runners and bicyclists,” she said. “This improves community and personal health. Just 30 minutes of daily exercise can enhance our lives and longevity.”

There are also economic benefits.

“Trails encourage growth and development because people come from all parts of the county and country to use them,” she said.

Using a repurposed railway, the 12-foot wide paved trail extends about 50 miles between Titusville in Brevard County and Enterprise in Volusia County. It showcases Florida’s flora and fauna, as well as historic towns, such as Maytown in Volusia County and Mims in Brevard County.

The counties held separate meetings recently and sought public comments for a management plan update.

Mary Ellen Donner, the director of Brevard County Parks and Recreation, attended both events.

During the Volusia County meeting Jan. 7, concerns were raised about ATVs and motorcycles using the trail, since motor vehicles are not allowed. People were asked to call the sheriff’s office or police with their concerns. Issues were addressed about a 3.5-mile trail section to be completed this spring.

No public comments were received at the Brevard County meeting Jan. 13. However, Donner later spoke of the Coast to Coast Connector across Central Florida, of which the East Central Regional Rail Trail is a part. A section near Winter Garden is yet to be completed.

“When the trail is complete, it will stretch 260 miles, and bikers will be able to ride from coast to coast between Titusville and Hillsborough County,” she said.

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