ORANGE PARK – The Black Creek Trail, which currently extends south to Orange Park may be extended NAX Jax.
The trail today runs from Black Creek bridge on U.S. Highway 17 through Fleming Island to Orange Park for 8.33 miles, but it could be extended for five more miles. Orange Park Mayor Connie Thomas asked resident Michael Wallwork, who has an extensive background in transportation planning, to create a new plan to make the extension a reality.
“The mayor asked me to take a look at it...and I didn’t like what I saw because...you have pedestrians up along [U.S. 17],” Wallwork said of the proposed trail extension. “We don’t want people all along these busy roads, so I went ahead and redesigned it.”
That redesign includes an additional 1.55 miles of trail in Orange Park, 450 feet of Clay County north of Orange Park, 3.53 miles of Jacksonville and a final 360 feet to NAS Jax. This extended portion of the trail goes from U.S. 17 to Milwaukee Avenue to Dogwood Lane to Doctor’s Lake Drive. The trail then goes to Kingsley Avenue and then turns to run parallel with the nearby CSX railroad tracks.
“I can confirm that the trail can be built from Kingsley to NAS Jax without using CSX’s right away,” Wallwork said. “This is very important because I haven’t been able to get in touch with CSX at all.”
Wallwork doesn’t yet have a cost estimate for this trail extension since it’s still in the preliminary stages. There are a number of options, some more expensive than others, and all parties involved will have to determine which option to use.
The City of Jacksonville, the Florida Department of Transportation and Ascension Medical Group St. Vincent’s, which has a few buildings in the area that the trail would occupy, have agreed to allow the extension to happen. The Orange Park Town Council will rely on town staff to explore options and final costs.
“Now that everyone is in agreement, we have to get a better cost estimate...so that’s the next step,” Wallwork said.
Wallwork said the commanding officer of NAS Jax is especially excited about the potential of this extension as it could provide an alternative route for as many as 20,000 of its staff for things like bicycling and running.
There is no timeline attached to the project.