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Tab Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail: Project History
Florida Keys Overseas Heritage State Trail

Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail


In August 1997, “The Old Keys Bridges Task Force” was appointed by Governor Lawton Chiles in response to public demand to use the Keys’ historic bridges for pedestrian and recreational activities. The recommendations of the Task Force sparked support for funding from the state legislature to keep the bridges open for public use and study the long-term maintenance requirements associated with creating a trail along U.S. 1 for bicycle and pedestrian use. The Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail (FKOHT) would follow Henry Flagler’s historic railroad route. Traveling U.S. 1 from Key Largo to Key West provides access to scenic, environmental, recreational, cultural, historical and archaeological resources that are unique and treasured by residents and visitors alike. Feedback from the public supported the concept of a well-planned, developed and maintained trail.

Clean Florida Keys (CFK), Inc. applied for and received a small “seed” grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to develop a draft plan for one small segment of the Trail—Key West to Sugarloaf, MM 0 to MM 20. CFK formed a partnership between FDEP, Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), Monroe County, the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy and the National Park Service. A draft plan was then developed through these partnerships and with the professional services of Michael Design Associates—specialists in trail design. This draft plan was discussed in two public meetings and input from the public was incorporated into the revised draft.

Feedback received by way of many public meetings and presentations strongly supported the concept of collaboration and teamwork. Partnerships were essential to achieving the Florida State Scenic Highway designation for U. S. 1. For overall planning of the FKOHT, government agencies liked the idea of developing a cooperative vision. The County received matching grants both from FDOT and FDEP to complete a Trail Master Plan for the entire length of the Keys. Six public meetings were held throughout the Keys in December, 1999 and May, 2000.

The FKOHT Master Plan, which included recommendations for trail planning, implementation and management, was approved in August, 2000. The Master Plan provided Monroe County and its planning partners with a unified vision and common goals for developing a valuable environmental, cultural and economic resource.

Working with the Monroe County Bicycle and Pedestrian Plan, the FDOT Five-Year Work Program and the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail Master Plan, the FDEP Office of Greenways & Trails agreed to design, construct and maintain the Trail, beginning in 2002.


Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail Home

Last updated: January 28, 2013

  3800 Commonwealth Boulevard    M.S. 795   Tallahassee, Florida 32399-3000
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