The Walkable Communities, Inc. website (www.walkable.org) has a list of several qualities that walkable communities have. Why should we be concerned if our community is walkable? Because communities which foster walking are healthier, develop stronger social ties, reduce certain infrastructure costs, and offer a higher quality of living. Quality of living is one of the leading indicators for economic development as well.
Among the qualities of a walkable community which Town Branch Trail is helping to develop are:
* intact town centers
* developments with residential densities, mixed income, mixed use.
* public space
* universal design
* connections of streets and trails
* many people walking
* visionary and forward thinking
The vision for Town Branch Trail includes revitalizing older neighborhoods and commercial areas along the proposed trajectory of the trail, encouraging adaptive reuse of older buildings and a mix of development types including office, retail, live-work, residential and neighborhood support services. Residents of these areas could use the trail to commute into the center of downtown, and also have access to daily needs within easy walking distance. Discussions about activities and businesses which would surround a major trail head where the creek emerges from the ground near Rupp Arena have generated some exciting ideas that will contribute to a vibrant downtown.
The trail is designed to be accessible to people in wheelchairs and using walkers, as well as those who run and bike. Parents with children in strollers also benefit from such “universal” design. Details such as shade and benches will add to the comfort of all people using the trail.
Town Branch Trail will connect to other trails and bikeways, and to major roadways such as Broadway, Main and Vine Streets, Forbes Road, Alexandria Drive and the future Newtown Pike extension. The Newtown Pike extension’s bike lane will connect Town Branch Trail to the UK campus. The trail also links two major public green areas, McConnell Springs and Masterson Station Park. When Town Branch Trail is completed, Rupp Arena and Convention Center events will be more accessible without driving.
The location and linkages of Town Branch mean that it will be well used; creating a safe, pleasant and interesting facility. Workers from various downtown businesses will mingle with convention goers and tourists, as school kids ride bikes or elderly neighbors go for a gentle stroll. Use will occur during normal business hours, after work and on weekends, bringing energy to many areas near downtown and beyond.
Walkable Communities Inc., 320 S. Main St, High Springs, FL 32643 (386) 454-3304