Project Status and FAQs for the Pinellas Trail North Gap Project
The construction of the Pinellas Trail North Gap project is scheduled to be complete and the trail opened to the public in August 2022, with the exception of the new pedestrian bridge over the Lake Tarpon Outfall Canal.
The bridge is scheduled to begin construction in Spring 2023 and is expected to be complete before Summer 2024.
While the bridge is being constructed, a temporary connection of the trail from the intersection of Tampa Road and McMullen Booth Road to East Lake Rd S. is available via existing sidewalks in the area and trail connection signage will be added.
How is the construction of the North Gap being funded?
The Pinellas Trail North is funded through a grant from the Florida Department of Transportation, with additional funding supported by the Local Infrastructure Sales Tax (Penny for Pinellas): Pinellas Trail Projects, Duke Energy Trail Extension program allocation, County PID No. 000967A.
How will construction impact my neighborhood?
The North Gap of the trail will be constructed with limited impacts to surrounding areas. Ample notice of disruption due to construction activities will be communicated to property owners and residents as each phase of the project is scheduled to proceed. Issues can be addressed to the Project Manager through the Contact Us page.
How can I be involved?
Volunteer opportunities are available through the Keep Pinellas Beautiful, Inc. Adopt-A-Mile Program.
In addition, a Trail Auxiliary Ranger Program is operated through Pinellas County Parks and Conservation Resources. More information can be found on the Pinellas County Volunteer Services website.
What will the trail link together?
The North Gap will continue the Pinellas Trail from John Chesnut Sr. Park south to the existing Duke Energy Trail at Enterprise Road. Ultimately, when both the north and south trail loops are complete, the Pinellas Trail will not only become a continuous 75-mile trail network that will provide access to safe, healthy and affordable transportation for residents, but it will also provide regional connectivity to the Pinellas Trail segment of the Florida Coast-to-Coast Connector Trail, which links to the Pasco and Hillsborough county trail networks.
The Florida Coast-to-Coast Connector Trail is a network of trails across the entire state that will provide 250 miles of uninterrupted non-motorized facilities. The North Gap will also provide a regional non-motorized corridor that connects to the scenic 9-mile Courtney Campbell Trail, which crosses Tampa Bay and links to the Tampa and Hillsborough County trail network.
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 Loop and expand Pinellas County’s multi-modal transportation network in a robust and sustainable manner.
Will there be any costs to use the trail?
The trail is open to the public and free to use.
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. View quarterly summaries 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 people on the trail creates an effect of “natural surveillance” that 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 few reported incidents along the Pinellas Trail compared to the county in general. Certainly, no area is completely invulnerable and vigilance is always important, but there is no conclusive evidence that shared-use paths invite a higher incidence of crime.
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 sell properties.
Read more about these studies below:
• National Park Service
• Urban Land Institute
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.
What about the safety of having the trail cross major roadways?
The County implements all industry-standard safety applications at all intersections, including trails. The plans currently call for new traffic signals to be installed where the trail intersects Countryside Blvd. south of the Mall and on S.R. 580 north of the Mall.
In addition, Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (RRFBs) will be installed at the intersection of the trail and Enterprise Rd., Meadow Wood Dr. at the Duke Energy corridor and at the marked crosswalk at the intersection of Meadow Wood Dr. and Countryside Blvd. RRFBs are user-actuated amber LEDs for use at mid-block crosswalks or intersections without signals. They are activated by pedestrians manually by a push button.
State law requires a driver to yield to pedestrians crossing the road in a crosswalk, regardless of whether there is a pedestrian signal or signage present. Studies show that the rectangular rapid-flashing beacon is effective at increasing compliance of drivers yielding to pedestrians at crosswalks. Florida law also dictates that pedestrians and bicyclists are accountable for their safety as well, and all users need to take personal responsibility for their safety.
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 are great opportunities to provide valuable transportation and recreation opportunities for local residents and visitors, offering 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 the Duke Energy website.
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., LLC, 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.
Questions and comments can be submitted by visiting the Contact Us page.