Sarasota County and North Port Commissioners Discuss Updates on Legacy Trail Extension and River Road Widening Projects

Legacy Trail Extension

VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - Commissioners from both Sarasota County and the City of North Port were in one room Wednesday for a special meeting. They were discussing two major projects that both commissions are working together on.

Nothing was approved Wednesday or set in stone at this special meeting, but we are now one step closer to having the Legacy Trail connect all cities in Sarasota County.

The county has $2 million available to expand the popular trail, and they’ll be using it to connect the City of North Port. Now the City of North Port must approve what route they will build that extension on. They’ve proposed three options, but after Wednesday, it looks like the path would go along I-75 and connect through Schewe Ranch, then go south until it hits Price Boulevard.

The contractors will now be designing the plan to get a better idea of how much it would cost.

“Community members of the city of North Port will be able to connect through Venice and go all the way up to Sarasota. For someone to be able to get on the trail and ride 30 miles through the county is awesome, and I think it’ll be a legacy project for so many people into the future,” Nicole Rissler, Director of Parks and Recreation, said.

There will be a meeting on October 15th at the Morgan Family Community Center in North Port to get the public’s input on this plan.

The second item on Wednesday’s agenda – the River Road Widening Project. It’s taken more than 20 years, but there is finally a set plan to make improvements to River Road – which is an evacuation route and one of the busiest roads in South Sarasota County.

However, first, the county and the state have to complete their road swap, and they’re scheduled to do so on October 8th. The Florida Department of Transportation will take over the 5.6-mile stretch of River Road in exchange for two roads on Siesta Key. Plus, FDOT is receiving $6 million from the City of North Port to use for improvements to that portion of River Road.

River Road Extension

"When we’re done with the project, it’ll be a six-lane facility with sidewalks and lighting from U.S. 41 to Center, and a four-lane facility divided highway with two lanes in each direction with sidewalks and lighting. A much improved evacuation route for times of emergency, but also just for every day commuting,” Spencer Anderson, Public Works Director, explained.

However, there is still some time before this widening project starts. If all goes according to plan, they will begin construction in the summer of 2021.

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