Over five hundred neighbors came out to the inaugural Ludlam Trail ride and picnic on November 7, marking another high water mark in the ascent of the Ludlam Trail. Neighbors along the trail came out to cheer the riders along, sending a message of support for converting the 100’ wide abandoned FEC rail corridor that runs from Dadeland to Miami International Airport into a world class linear park.
Riders (and some walkers) were treated to their first legal ride on the Trail from AD Barnes Park at Bird Road to SW 80 Street. Gates were opened and residents were able for the first time to go uninterrupted through major intersections (with thanks to Miami-Dade Police).
The ride, which was hosted by Friends of Ludlam Trail and Florida East Coast Industries, showcased over $150,000 in preliminary trail improvements.
The old rail bed of large rocks was replaced by a bed of compacted soil, providing a needed improvement for bicyclists and pedestrians, and effectively creating a temporary trail until the purchase of the land and permanent infrastructure is installed. Thanks to the Miami Foundation Open Space Challenge signs were installed that show distances in time to major landmarks around the trail (ie. ‘a 5 min walk to Tropical Park’). These are just the start of improvements to the land that will lead to public opening of the trail in 2016.
“This is truly unprecedented around here,” said renowned planner and FOLT board member Victor Dover. “You hardly ever see a project of this scale and importance come to life so quickly.”
While the corridor is not open to the public yet, it will be soon. For now, folks will have to attend one of the monthly events on the trail hosted by Friends of Ludlam Trail.
It’s hard to imagine, but only a year earlier (almost to the day) FEC faced an angry audience of over 500 neighbors at a Town Hall event at South Miami High School. That night was a turning point for the Ludlam Trail because soon thereafter FECI and started working together with the community.
The result has been a yearlong public engagement process that brought FECI, neighbors, and Miami-Dade County together to draft a plan for the corridor that balanced the landowners desire to develop with the public need for open space. Countless charrettes, studios, and steering committee meetings were held, resulting in a plan that preserves over 75% of the corridor as open space in perpetuity.
The other 25% will be mixed-use development, located at major intersections, and will include overhead trail crossings to ensure trail continuity over the entire six miles.
Thanks to the collaboration between FECI and FOLT, more folks than ever will be able to experience the Ludlam Trail. Together they are hosting monthly events on and off the trail to raise awareness about the corridor and, more importantly, to enjoy the trail! Be sure to mark your calendars for the next Ludlam Trail event called ‘Ludlam Lights’ on December 12 at South Miami High School. There will be dinner, carols, and a sunset walk down the trail. Check Ludlamtrail.org for more information.