FDOT Study Of Trail That Could Connect Marshall Hampton Reserve and Circle B Is On The Horizon

Much of the discussion around the future of Marshall Hampton Reserve has been the effect on the current trail system and entrance area when a new toll road plows through the northeastern corner beginning sometime next year.

The Central Polk Parkway’s first phase between U.S. 17 and Winter Lake Road and ultimately the Polk Parkway will cost an estimated $219.4 million to build. It will be followed a couple of years later by the $149.7 segment between U.S. 17and State Road 60.

So far no further extensions are in the Florida Turnpike Enterprise’s work plan. These projects were once considered part of a much larger project to slice through rural lands in the Heartland to open more land to more intense development under the guise of dealing with a long-term plan to deal with traffic congestion.

The roads that have been approved are being promoted as a way to reduce the amount of truck traffic in Bartow as the freight terminal and other industrial development in south Winter Haven builds out.

For those of you who tuned in late, the Winter Haven city limits extends to south of State Road 60, just a few miles north of Alturas.

Meanwhile, while the scenic oak hammock at the beginning of the trail system at Marshall Hampton is being leveled to make way for the new toll road, Florida Department of Transportation officials have taken the lead on a new trail project long considered by Polk County park planners.

That involves a way to connect the trail systems at Marshall Hampton and Circle B.

That would involve constructing a boardwalk through the swampland between Lake Hancock and Winter Lake Road to connect Marshall Hampton’s Acorn Trail to Circle B’s Lost Bridge Trail.

An $870,000 study to examine the feasibility of this project is tentatively scheduled to begin sometime in 2024 or 2025.

One of the biggest issues for a project like this, based on the history of a similar boardwalk at Mosaic Peace River Park. Is how to deal with the inevitable damage caused by the occasional falling of large trees as a result of hurricanes or other natural forces.

Nevertheless, if this project turns out to be feasible, it would create a new link in a trail system that circumnavigates one of the largest lakes in Polk County, connects thousands acres of undeveloped habitat and the urban trail systems beyond.

Watch for developments as the time for the discussion nears.

Posted in Group Conservation Issues.