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Florida County Continues to Pursue its Trails Future

A major county in Florida is being heralded for a new study that not only outlines cost-effective strategies for building new trails and greenways, but also quantifies the environmental, economic and social benefits of such facilities.

The Miami-Dade County Trail Design Guidelines and Benefits Study received an award of honor from the Florida Chapter of the American Society of Landscape Architects (FLASLA) in the category of Planning and Analysis, following up on similar recognition in recent months by the American Planning Association (APA) Florida Gold Coast Section for best plan, report or study, and a national finalist in the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) professional design awards.

The study was developed by prime consultant, AECOM, as a comprehensive reference for trail, greenway and linear park design and planning. Innovative urban trail guidelines were paired with in-depth analyses that provide direct environmental, economic and social benefits estimates. The study includes extensive research and analysis of best practices and successful comparable urban trails while providing extensive methodology to estimate direct benefits in order to prioritize limited resources.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy's Florida State Director Ken Bryan was part of the team that helped author the award-winning plan, using his extensive experience with rail-trail development to provide insight on how best to acquire rights-of-way and appropriate corridors for recreational pathways.

One of the features of the study was its establishment of a methodology to analyze the benefits of trails such as vehicle trip reduction, increase in accessibility, reduction in pollution, effects on property values and job creation.

"This recognition is a validation of our tireless efforts to provide quality trails and greenways throughout Miami-Dade County," says Miami-Dade Parks Director Jack Kardys.

In recent years Miami-Dade has actively pursued its stated Greenways, Trails and Water Trails Vision, "for an interconnected system that provides transportation alternatives and reduces traffic congestion; creates new recreational opportunities; increases property values; protects natural resources; and encourages tourism and business development."

A highlight of the regional trail system will be the developing Biscayne Everglades Trail, comprised of 49 miles of greenways and multi-purpose paths. It will be the only trail in the United States that connects two National Parks, and it also travels through local residential and commercial neighborhoods, increasing opportunities for tourists and residents alike. In coming years Miami-Dade County has also set itself the ambitious goal of establishing a 1- to 5-mile-wide corridor of conservation and recreation land along the county's western edge, buffering the Florida Everglades.

Miami-Dade County's belief that a strong trails network is integral to the economic future of the region is a vision shared by many cities and counties across Florida, as evident by the growing opposition from Florida elected officials to Congressman John Mica's plan to eliminate dedicated federal funding for trails, bike paths and sidewalks.

Download the report, and for more information about Miami-Dade County's vision for its trails future, visit www.miamidade.gov/parksmasterplan/trails.

Artist rendering of Ludlam Trail courtesy of Miami-Dade County Park & Recreation Department.

Posted Tue, Jul 26 2011 3:41 PM by Jake Lynch

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