City of Winter Haven Approves Grant Application for 6-Mile Bike Trail Connecting Auburndale and Lake Alfred to Statewide Trail
by James Coulter
Ever considered cycling your way between Auburndale and Lake Alfred? How about cycling from one end of the state of Florida to the next?
You very well could do that soon now that the cities of Winter Haven, Auburndale, and Lake Alfred are considering applying for a six-mile bike trail connecting two adjacent trails between the two cities, as well as connecting them all to a statewide trail.
At their meeting on Monday evening, Winter Haven City Commissioners voted unanimously to pass a resolution to approve the grant application to the Shared-Use Non-Motorized (SUN) Trail Network for a project to create a six-mile trail connection.
In 2013, the city had passed a resolution, according to a city memo, “in support of a trail connection between Haines City, Lake Alfred and Auburndale…[which] would also connect to Winter Haven via the Chain of Lakes Trail.”
Old Dixie Trail would connect the Winter Haven and Lake Alfred to Auburndale via the Van Fleet Trail. The trail would directly connect to the State Coast to Coast (C2C) Connector, which is a 250-mile trail system that would connect Titusville to St. Petersburg. Currently, the C2C is already 85 percent complete, according to the city memo.
According to the city staff memo, “Winter Haven, along with Polk County, the Polk Transportation Planning Organization and Cities of Auburndale and Lake Alfred are working on a joint grant application for the 6-mile stretch of the Old Dixie Trai.”
City Manager T. Michael Stavres commented on the overall significance of the grant application, which has received approval from three different governing bodies.
“I will say that one of the attractive features of this type of application is when you have three municipalities plus the county plus the TPO who are all endorsing that in partnership,” he said. “I think it gives it a lot of credibility to the grant decision makers.”
Starves mentioned how cycling from one side of the state to the other through a trail connection such as this is feasible, as proffesional cyclist Andy Palmer had already ridden the C2C Connector from one coast to the other.
“This is a big deal,” one commissioner stated. “People like [the city manager] will be able to jump on their bikes and go wherever they want to go. Van Fleet Trail [which this trail connects to] takes you all the way to Clermont. It is pretty cool. If you have the legs, you can do it now without being hit by a car.”
City Commissioner motioned to approve the resolution, and the other city commissioners voted unanimously for the approval.