NEW PORT RICHEY — Pasco County is putting the finishing touches on plans for its Anclote Coastal Trail, a meandering $3.8 million bicycle and pedestrian path linking a trio of county parks, three schools, an environmental preserve and the county recreation center in Holiday.
The Pasco Metropolitan Planning Organization — composed of elected county and city officials — approved the proposed route last week, which will stretch from a southern starting point at Anclote and L&R Industrial boulevards to sidewalks at Strauber Memorial Highway and Gulf Trace Boulevard that lead to U.S. 19 and an existing path northward to Floramar Terrace.
"It's a really nice trail to get people off busy roads,'' said Commissioner Kathryn Starkey.
The route will follow existing right-of-way north along Sweetbriar Drive to connect Gulfside Elementary, Paul R. Smith Middle and Anclote High schools before turning west and north to reach the county-owned Baillie's Bluff conservation area. From there, users can go north and west to Anclote Gulf Park or turn south on a separate segment and travel to its end at Anclote River Park. The northern segment continues east and north to Key Vista Nature Park and then on to Strauber Memorial Highway.
The southern leg along Baillie's Bluff Road also will include a trail head with parking and an observation area for bird-watching enthusiasts to view a bald eagle's nest approximately 110 yards away. It's an idea the Clearwater Audubon Society first pitched to the county's Tourist Development Council more than five years ago.
The proposed route still must be approved formally by the County Commission. Design work is expected to begin later this fiscal year, and construction, which could take up to 18 months, would begin sometime after Oct. 1, 2017. The design and construction work is financed by the Penny for Pasco sales tax.