Project Status and Frequently Asked Questions about the Pinellas Trail South Gap Alignment Development
The Pinellas Trail South Gap project is currently in the alignment development phase. The project is funded for design in Fiscal Year 2021/22 and for construction in Fiscal Year 2023/24.
How is the South Gap being funded?
The Pinellas Trail South Gap is funded through a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation with additional funding from the Penny for Pinellas’ Pinellas Trails Projects, Duke Energy Trail Extension program allocation, County PID No. 003883A – PTSG.
How can I be involved?
Volunteer opportunities are available through Keep Pinellas Beautiful, Inc. Adopt-A-Mile Program.
How will the trail benefit our local community?
Once complete, the Pinellas Trail Loop will provide a bicycle and pedestrian network that is unprecedented in Florida. This will enhance the current economic, health and safety benefits provided by the trail and expand Pinellas County’s multimodal transportation network in a robust and sustainable manner.
How can I access the trail?
The trail is accessible where it intersects all public streets, roadways, transit stops (PSTA) and connecting trails. Should citizens need to drive, the trail has been designed to take advantage of the public parking available at county parks where possible. For more information on getting to and using the trail, visit the Pinellas Trail Guide.
How will the trail be maintained and operated?
Pinellas County Public Works maintains the Pinellas Trail, including pavement markings and striping, while Parks and Conservation Resources manages the operations of the Pinellas Trail, such as daily patrols, volunteer and special event coordination.
How will the increase in foot traffic affect the safety of homes along the trail?
The trail is patrolled by the Pinellas Trail Security Task Force which represents law enforcement officers from every jurisdictional agency the trail crosses and also includes Pinellas County Emergency Medical Service (EMS), Fire Administration, County Park Rangers, and their Auxiliary counterparts. The Task Force meets quarterly to discuss trail safety and to report each and every incident related to the trail. The quarterly summaries can be found on the Forward Pinellas website.
Overall, there are very few incidents directly related to the trail. Many calls made to the Task Force simply use the trail as geo-reference points. Fear of crime is a common theme when it comes to bicycle and pedestrian facilities that are in proximity to homes. As evidenced by the few numbers of Task Force incidents, having bicyclists, runners, and just people in general on the trail creates an effect of “natural surveillance” which limits the opportunity for crime by increasing the perception that people and their actions can be seen by others.
In addition, Pinellas County has a “Crime Viewer” GIS map. A filter for any date range will show remarkably fewer reported incidents along the Pinellas Trail as compared to the County in general. Certainly, no area is completely invulnerable and vigilance is always important, however, there is no conclusive evidence that shared-use paths invite a higher incidence of crime.
Should homeowners abutting the Duke Energy corridor expect development?
The Duke Energy corridor is private property owned by Duke Energy. The trail that lies within the Duke Energy corridor is subject to the rules and policies of Duke Energy. Duke Energy recognizes that multi-use trails are important to their community and, in an area that has limited open space, the long, continuous power line corridors make great opportunities to provide valuable transportation and recreation opportunities for local residents and visitors and are a way for utility companies to give back to the community.
Besides trails, other uses may be permitted by Duke Energy. For more information, visit Duke Energy Trees and Rights-of-Way.
How will trail users be affected by the high voltage power lines?
Trails are often built in utility corridors with electric power lines overhead. Over the years some articles have raised concerns, apparently unfounded, about electromagnetic fields (EMF) emanating from power lines.
From an operational perspective, EMF is not an issue for trail activities. Trail users are destination oriented, so their exposure is limited. Over 25 years of research and hundreds of millions of research dollars from groups including the World Health Organization, the National Cancer Institute, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have come to the following conclusion: There are no known adverse health effects associated with low levels of static electric or magnetic fields such as those associated with DC transmission lines. Most studies conclude that health risks from inactivity greatly outweigh any risks to trail users from EMF exposure.
Duke-American Transmission Co., a joint venture partnership between Duke Energy and American Transmission Co., offers an understanding of electric and magnetic fields:
Some trail users have reported feeling "zaps" near power lines. Is this a concern in Pinellas County?
Duke Energy has tested the transmission lines along the Pinellas Trail, including those near the Duke Energy Trail Bridge at U.S. 19 in Clearwater. The transmission lines in that area are rated for 150 kV (kilovolt) and 230 kV. The testing readings taken within the right-of-way for the transmission lines were well below applicable regulatory requirements.
How will the trail affect my property value?
An evaluation of property values from Pinellas County Property Appraiser’s records indicates that property values of homes along the Pinellas Trail have increased at a faster rate than countywide values. This is consistent with other property values in proximity to trails and active transportation assets around the county, according to the Urban Land Institute. The National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Benefits of Trails & Greenways and the Urban Land Institute reports studies in Denver, Seattle, Dallas, Indianapolis, Minnesota and other communities across the country have consistently found that that proximity to trails increases the value of homes from 1-6.5% and urban trails are regarded by real estate agents as an amenity that helps to attract buyers and to sell property.
Read more about these studies below:
The benefits of a community trail have been well documented across the country. Once complete, the Loop network will provide a bicycle and pedestrian network that will enhance current economic, health and safety benefits and expand Pinellas County’s multi-modal transportation network in a robust and sustainable manner. For more information on the benefits associated with the trail, visit Forward Pinellas.