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Veto does not deter backers of bike trail across Florida

6:45 PM, May 21, 2013   |    comments
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Gov. Rick Scott's veto of money to build a bike trail across Florida from St. Petersburg to Brevard County is not deterring supporters of the project.

They vow they'll be back again next year, pushing for $50 million to complete a 275-mile hiking and biking trail called the Coast-to-Coast Connector trail.

Gov. Scott used his line-item veto power to remove the project from next year's budget.

He evaluated projects with three criteria: does it create jobs, improve education or make government more efficient.

Ken Bryan of the Rails to Trails Conservancy believes the bike trail would have created jobs in communities and helped children get to school safely, so he's disappointed by the veto.

"I really thought that this year was going to be a good legislative session. For the last three or four years, they were just brutal. I didn't think we could end at a lower note than we ended last year's session. Of course, the veto makes me feel this is a new low point. But hopefully we've bottomed out and now we can concentrate on getting better."

The Coast-to-Coast Connector trail had a lot of support among state lawmakers.

Bryan said Rails to Trails will work with those lawmakers next year in support of the project.

"I think moving forward, we just have to focus on we made a lot of new friends in the Legislature this year and so moving forward, we have to go back to those friends and strategize how we can regroup and have a better year next year."

In his veto message, Gov. Scott said other state funds are available to complete the gaps between existing bike trails across central Florida.

Florida consistently leads the nation in biking and pedestrian deaths. The latest figures show 125 cyclists were killed in 2011, the most of any state.

Nationwide, 677 cyclists died in traffic crashes.

Dave Heller

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