TREASURE ISLAND — After months of work, the city's revamped beach walk will officially open to the public today.
The improved mile-long concrete walkway, which runs parallel to the beachfront, will be celebrated with a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. at Treasure Island Gulf Front Park, 10400 Gulf Blvd.
The city's recreation department will give away souvenir packs of Treasure Island trail mix, and a steel drum band will play until 11:30 a.m.
The trail was first built in 1966 and then widened in 1998. In 2011, residents approved a half-mill property tax increase to rebuild the beach trail, which was crumbling in some spots, along with replacing bridges to the Isle of Capri and Isle of Palms. Construction on the trail began in November.
The $1.2-million trail runs from 119th Avenue to 104th Avenue, with beach access nodes along the path linked to street entrances along Gulf Boulevard. Turtle-friendly LED lighting lines the trail, and decorative nautical images are embedded into the tan and ruby-red concrete. The trail's sand wall is capped with a bench top, which allows walkers to rest and enjoy the view.
City commissioners, who had been concerned about dozens of hairline cracks in the wall, gave the project final approval two weeks ago. Phil Graham IV, a landscape architect involved in the construction, said the cracks had no impact on the structure's integrity but did have an aesthetic impact. The cracks were filled in, and Graham said he doesn't expect any more problems.
The new curving walkway adds "appeal to walkers and is a big upgrade from the former walkway," he said.
Mayor Bob Minning said he has received good feedback from residents who have been using the new trail since it was completed a few weeks ago.
After hearing that skateboarders were already using the wall, commissioners decided to spend another $2,000 to install vertical barriers to prevent possible damage by skateboarders.