Miami-Dade County has purchased a broad swath of property that will be used for a nearly 6-mile urban trail. The purchase of Ludlam Trail is the culmination of a multi-year effort by activists, urban planners and the Miami-Dade County government.
The trail will run north to south from between Dadeland Mall and Miami International Airport, and close to SW/NW 69th Avenue.
"We’ve been working actively since 2014 just for this moment," Tony Garcia, a co-founder of the group Friends of Ludlam Trail, told WLRN. "While it’s a momentous occasion, it’s really just a first step. We have so much more work to do to open the trail."
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Rebeca Sosa, who has pushed the effort to purchase the trail for years, confirmed the purchase of Ludlam Trail on her Facebook page, although the Miami-Dade Property Appraiser’s Office website does not yet register the purchase. The website can take weeks to register new property purchases, the office told WLRN.
The purchase of the 5.6 mile stretch of old Florida East Coast Railway track land was approved by the county commission in September. Business districts, existing public parks, transit hubs, schools and residential areas will be connected by the future public park, according to a trail benefits plan and maps released by Miami-Dade County.
"This is like the mother of all safe routes to school," said Garcia.
The funds used for the $24.6 million land purchase came from a mix of Florida Department of Transportation grants and road impact fees.
“It is my hope that the Ludlam Trail will stand as an enduring symbol of what can be achieved by bringing neighbors, stakeholders, and local government together in a spirit of cooperation to build something that is truly beneficial for the whole community,” Sosa said in a September statement.
Several developers have purchased properties and obtained county permission to rezone them for higher population density. The county’s benefit analysis noted the future green space could push surrounding areas to “redevelop over time with an emphasis towards providing connection to Ludlam Trail.”
The Ludlam Trail is a key part of Miami-Dade County’s plan to create a 225-mile trail network -- dubbed the “Miami loop” -- across the county. Other parts of the trail network will be the Miami River Greenway, a series of green spaces lining both sides of the Miami River; Perimeter Trail, a trail that is slated to loop around Miami International Airport, connecting the Ludlam Trail to the Miami River Greenway; and the Underline, a park and trail that will run under a 10-mile stretch of the Metrorail that just broke ground.
A series of development costs and environmental clean-up projects are needed before the Ludlam Trail will be operational. The trail is currently fenced off, after the soil was found to be contaminated (the path was previously a railroad track owned by Florida East Coast railway). An estimated $94 million will be put into development and renovation of the trail.