Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bike trail could bring economic benefits to Brooksville

I know most of you are sick of reading about Dan DeWitt and his bicycle, so this is all I'll say about my Sunday morning ride on the Withlacoochee State Trail.

If you didn't make it out there on this sunny, crisp fall weekend to either take a walk or cruise along on two wheels, I actually feel sorry for you. That's how gorgeous it was.

This trail taps into the open space on the east side of Hernando and neighboring counties that, as a regional asset, ranks up there with the Weeki Wachee River and the Gulf of Mexico. The trail passes cattle grazing in pastures, the Withlacoochee State Forest, towns such as Floral City that were settled for some other purpose but, I swear, have reached their peak use as idyllic bike riders' lunch stops.

No wonder an estimated 300,000 people used the trail last year. So, wouldn't it be nice if a few of them took a detour into Brooksville?

Well, pretty soon, almost certainly, they will.

With construction on the first 3 miles of the Good Neighbor Trail entering its final stages, the state Department of Transportation said last month it has set aside $2 million to build the final 6.7 miles. This will complete the long-anticipated 10-mile link between Russell Street, in southern Brooksville, and the Withlacoochee trail.

The final stretch has made the department's five-year work program, which means that for the first time there are firm plans to build it, said Steve Diez, the county's bicycle-pedestrian coordinator.

"This is a big deal," Diez said Monday.

I should also add that this trail has been in the works as long the Hernando Beach dredge, that it has progressed so slowly it seems to operate by its own, slow-turning calender, and that, by this measure, "pretty soon" means five years from now.

And, yes, it's possible the money will disappear before then. It's in a federal transportation fund for trails and other extras, and some people in Washington, D.C., don't think this is a worthy way to spend tax revenue.

"Every year, it's under attack," Diez said of the fund.

So are these critics right? Is a couple of million dollars too much for a bike trail?

Well, consider that two years ago, we used $1.2 million in stimulus money to repave the already glass-smooth surface of the Suncoast Trail.

Consider, also, that when I talked to one of my Citrus County buddies last Friday, he was looking forward to taking his wife out to a multi-course Italian meal in downtown Inverness, which among other options for a night out includes bars specializing in martinis and craft beers, an Irish pub and a couple of solid family restaurants.

And in downtown Brooksville? Nothing worth mentioning. Not after dark.

It's no coincidence that the revival of downtown Inverness started about the time the trail cut through it, in the mid 1990s.

No, a bike trail won't make Brooksville a major tourist destination. But it could easily bring in a few more visitors, who will support a few more downtown businesses. And these, along with the trail itself, will make Brooksville more attractive to prospective home buyers and investors.

So, in view of the long-term economic impact, $2 million is peanuts.

Then there's the really important benefit: getting a few more folks out of bed and off the couch on beautiful fall mornings.

Bike trail could bring economic benefits to Brooksville 11/15/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 15, 2011 9:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. No toll lanes north of downtown Tampa in three of four interstate proposals


    TAMPA — Express lanes may not be coming to downtown Tampa after all. Or at least not to the stretch of Interstate 275 that goes north through Bearss Avenue.

    Seminole Heights resident Kimberly Overman discusses the new interstate options with V.M. Ybor resident Chris Vela (left), Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp and HNTB consultant Chloe Coney during a Tampa Bay Express meeting Monday night at the Barrymore Hotel. [CAITLIN JOHNSTON  |  Times]
  2. No lack of issues facing St. Petersburg's six council candidates


    ST. PETERSBURG — The six candidates for City Council gathered Monday evening in the very chamber to which they aspire to serve.

    St. Petersburg City Council candidates (from left)  Brandi Gabbard and Barclay Harless in District 2; Jerick Johnston and incumbent council member Darden Rice in District 4; and Justin Bean and Gina Driscoll of District 6. All six candidates appeared at Monday night's forum at City Hall sponsored by the League of Women Voters. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]

  3. Iraq's Kurds vote on independence, raising regional fears


    IRBIL, Iraq — Iraqi Kurds voted Monday in a landmark referendum on supporting independence, a move billed by the Kurdish leadership as an exercise in self-determination but viewed as a hostile act by Iraq's central government. Neighboring Turkey even threatened a military response.

    People celebrate Monday after voting closed in a referendum on independence in Irbil, Iraq.
  4. North Korean diplomat says Trump has 'declared war'


    UNITED NATIONS — North Korea's top diplomat said Monday that President Donald Trump's weekend tweet was a "declaration of war" and North Korea has the right to retaliate by shooting down U.S. bombers, even in international airspace.

    North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho, center, speaks outside the U.N. Plaza Hotel in New York on Monday.
  5. Pinellas grants St. Pete's request to add millions to pier budget

    Local Government

    Times Staff Writer

    The Pinellas County Commission has granted St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman's request to dedicate millions more toward the city's new pier.

    The St. Petersburg City Council on Thursday  voted 7-1 to appropriate $17.6 million for the over-water portion of the Pier District. This is a rendering of what the new Pier District could look like. [Courtesy of St. Petersburg]