Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Wants Nassau to Be Part of East Coast Greenway; the Interstate Cycling and Hiking Trail Is Due to Run from Maine to Key West

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Group Wants Nassau to Be Part of East Coast Greenway; the Interstate Cycling and Hiking Trail Is Due to Run from Maine to Key West

Article excerpt

Byline: KEVIN TURNER

FERNANDINA BEACH - Officials from the East Coast Greenway group, a national organization seeking to include Nassau County in a 3,000-mile interstate hiking and cycling trail, will meet on Amelia Island Thursday.

Although the group, based in Rhode Island, has worked since the 1980s to add trail segments in northern states to the route, this year's meetings in Florida mark the first time it has focused on the southernmost - and largest - state in the proposed trail.

The East Coast Greenway is the first long-distance urban trail system, providing a corridor route for bicyclists and hikers. The trail's mission is to connect existing and planned trails to offer people a continuous, safe route from Calais, Maine, to Key West.

On Thursday, members of the group's board and others will discuss the best route for the trail through Nassau County. State representatives who are responsible for trails also will be there, said Fernandina Beach resident and trails supporter Mike Pikula.

Pikula has been a member of the group for more than five years. He's helped organize the meeting and will propose a route for the trail here.

"It's a noble objective. It's patterned after the Appalachian Trail," he said. "The focus is on planning it from a high level, but the implementation is on the state level, and they turn it over to local governments."

Pikula's plan has the trail entering Nassau County from the north, crossing into Florida over the St. Marys River on U.S. 17. Those following the route would then turn onto Page's Dairy Road, then to Chester, and then head east on Florida A1A. Once on Amelia Island, trail followers would turn right onto the Amelia Island Parkway, which has wide shoulders for bicyclists. They then would travel the tree-shaded Buccaneer Trail and then get back onto Florida A1A at First Coast Highway, heading south. They would then leave the island at the Nassau Sound bridge and get on the existing Timucuan Trail in Duval County.

"That trail already meets the standards; it's already in place," Pikula said.

Officials are also considering a ferry crossing to and from Fernandina Beach to St. …

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