The Tallahassee/St. Marks Historic Railroad, first constructed in the early 1900s, is being resurfaced.
In 2006, the Florida legislature funded $5 million to the Office of Greenways and Trails, an entity within the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Roughly $3.5 million of those funds are going toward the resurfacing and widening of the 16-mile Tallahassee/St. Marks Historic Railroad trail, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
When it was built, the railroad was primarily used to navigate cotton from the plantation belt to the coast. The cotton was then moved for shipment to textile mills in New England.
Today, the former railroad corridor, turned greenway is used for numerous recreational activities. In addition to the amenities that the trail provides, it also serves as a passageway leading from Tallahassee into St. Marks, just south of the city in Wakulla County.
The historically transformed trail is now seeking resurfacing and widening after 20 years of service due to the questionable safety concerns of the estimated 280,000 hikers, joggers and cyclists its serves.
Frequent trail cyclist Chris Conn said he looks forward to the resurfacing.
“When friends and I ride along the trail, sometimes we have to stop abruptly to avoid running into people,” said Conn.
Dan Fortunasa, another cyclists agrees with Conn that overcrowding on the trail can be a nuisance.
“I enjoy hiking on the trail, and hopefully with the enlargement faster paced hikers will be able to pass other hikers,” said Fortunasa.
The trail will be widened from eight feet to 12 feet.
St. Marks, Fla., a small locale in Wakulla County, lies at the trail’s southern Terminus. The resurfacing and widening project is a part of the larger goal to redevelop the small town. The city of
St. Marks hopes to draw attention to its natural beauty, through the Waterfronts Florida project, according to the FLDEP.
Waterfronts Florida is a partner with the Department of Community Affairs’ waterfronts revitalization program.
“I don’t want to see St. Marks die,” said Billy Bishop, chairman of the 15-member St. Marks Waterfronts Florida committee.
The project is expected to be complete by July.