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
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
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.
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