WST construction preview

Signs warn Withlacoochee State Trail users that portions of the trail will be closed temporarily for resurfacing. Work starts Jan. 25 on one-quarter mile of the trail north of E. David Street, above, and will take three to six weeks. In all, four sections of the trail will be resurfaced by summer.

The 29-mile segment of the Withlacoochee State Trail in Citrus County is about to undergo a multi-section pavement reconstruction project for the first time since it opened nearly 30 years ago.

And Jerry Butler couldn’t be happier.

Butler, a Citrus Springs resident who rides the trail to Inverness and back several times a week, said the pavement needs work.

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“Anybody who rides it any amount of time knows there are places that are really, really bad,” he said. “That trail will beat you to death in some places.” 

The Florida Department of Transportation starts work Jan. 25 on the state trail near Hernando in the first of four sections that will be rebuilt. The $1 million project is expected to end in summer 2021.

That means trail users, particularly bicyclists, will have fair warning as they approach the construction areas but will need to turn back once they hit the construction site. The state is not installing temporary trails during the work.

“When trail users reach the closure area at either end, they will need to turn around or seek alternate routes,” FDOT spokesman John McShaffrey said in an email in response to Chronicle questions about the project.

The 46-mile Withlacoochee Trail, which runs through portions of Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties, opened after CSX Corp. sold railroad right of way to the state in 1989. Other than patch work, the trail has had no stretches of resurfacing.

Each section will be closed for three to six weeks for construction. Other than the first section, McShaffrey could not say when construction on the remaining sections would begin.

Here’s a rundown of the state trail project:

• One-quarter mile of trail where it crosses East David Street near Hernando and moves north. The quarter-mile section will be rebuilt and raised 1.5 inches to alleviate standing water issues. Work on this section begins Monday, Jan. 25.

• West of Old Floral City Road, north of East Keating Park Street and south of East Moonrise Lane, about 250 feet to be rebuilt and resurfaced, including replacing a drainage structure and raising the trail grade 3 inches to alleviate standing water issues.

• County Road 486 heading south, a 550-foot segment rebuilt and resurfaced, including raising the trail grade 1.5 inches to alleviate standing water issues.

• A 1.5-mile segment beginning south of North Citrus Springs Boulevard, continues on the north side of the road, to North Haitian Drive. The segment will be rebuilt and resurfaced, and raised 1.5 inches to alleviate standing water issues.

Also, the project includes upgrades to signs and markings at the state trail crossing on Orange Avenue in Floral City. This portion of the project does not include trail pavement reconstruction. 

Contact Chronicle reporter Mike Wright at 352-563-3228 or mwright@chronicleonline.com. To view more of his stories, go to www.tinyurl.com/y3bakm6w.