Old Dixie Trail Project Development & Environment Study

Old Dixie Trail Project Development & Environment Study / Project Information

Project Information

Picture of vehicles on a highway

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), District One is completing a Project Development and Environment (PD&E) Study to determine the location and conceptual design of the Old Dixie Trail (ODT). This trail will connect the trailheads of the Auburndale-TECO Trail and the Haines City Trail, for a distance of approximately 12 miles. The Old Dixie Trail PD&E Study is intended to provide regional connectivity that will offer recreational and economic development benefits. The ODT also offers connections to the Lake Alfred Trail and the Chain of Lakes Trail, as well as other planned future trails.

The Study is divided into two phases:

Phase 1 – Feasibility

  • Collect and analyze existing conditions data
  • Examine engineering factors (safety, right-of-way, etc.) and environmental factors (natural and human built environment)
  • Identify opportunities and physical constraints
  • Conduct stakeholder interviews to understand community goals and needs
  • Analyze trail segments

A Feasibility Study began in 2017, collecting and analyzing engineering and environmental data within the study area. Following a public meeting on December 5, 2017, six end-to-end alternatives were developed.

Click here for a map of the six end-to-end alternatives

Meetings with representatives from the cities of Auburndale, Lake Alfred, Winter Haven and Haines City, as well as Polk County and the Polk Transportation Planning Organization (TPO) took place in July 2019 to consider the six trail alternatives. Using feedback from these meetings as well as the information outlined within the Feasibility Study, two of the six alternatives were selected to move forward into further PD&E Analysis.

Click here for a map of the two alternatives

Phase 2 – Project Development & Environment (PD&E) Study

  • Identify and define alternatives that meet and/or address the study goals and objectives
  • Conduct environmental analyses required under NEPA
  • Conduct stakeholder interviews to understand community goals and needs

General Project Steps

Data Collection

The first major work effort is the collection of all available data pertaining to the study corridor including existing characteristics, existing and future land uses, drainage patterns, locations of wetlands and habitat for threatened or endangered species, potential contamination sites, areas of historic and cultural significance and population demographics.

Alternatives Development and Analysis

During the PD&E process, the study team develops feasible alternatives for improvement projects, called “build” alternatives. They evaluate the “build” alternatives based on environmental, engineering, and socioeconomic conditions; safety needs; and public comment. The team also evaluates the need for additional right-of-way for stormwater ponds and environmental mitigation during the PD&E study phase. Throughout the process, the study team also considers the “no-build” alternative, which assumes no improvements. The environmental and social effects and costs of the “build” and “no-build” alternatives are quantified and summarized in an evaluation matrix.

Alternatives Public Meeting

FDOT held a public meeting early in the project. for this study. The study team presented the proposed trail alignment alternatives at this meeting. FDOT invited the public to attend, view project displays and comment on proposed improvements. With input received at the public meeting, FDOT narrowed down trail segments to analyze during the PD&E Study phase. This meeting was held on December 5, 2017. Resources provided at this meeting can be found within the public involvement tab.

Public Workshop

FDOT held a virtual public workshop with a live component on September 16, 2021 from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Additionally, an in-person public workshop was held on September 23, 2021 from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm at the Lake Alfred Lions Club at 175 N. Nekoma Ave., Lake Alfred, FL, 33850. The study team presented the proposed trail alignment alternatives at the workshop. FDOT invited the public to attend, view project displays and comment on proposed improvements. All workshop materials can be found within the Public Workshop page for view or download.

Public Hearing

FDOT will hold a formal public hearing for this study. The study team will present the final analysis and preferred alternative for the Old Dixie Trail. FDOT invites the public to attend the hearing and take the opportunity to give public testimony regarding proposed improvements. The department will make a final decision on the recommendations after the public hearing – when the public has an opportunity to review and comment on the preferred alternative. This hearing is planned for Fall 2022.

Final Acceptance

FDOT will submit the study for Location and Design Concept Acceptance after the study team receives and evaluates comments from the public hearing. The PD&E study phase of the project is completed once the project is accepted by Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). The phases that follow the PD&E study are design of the project, acquisition of right-of-way (if necessary) and construction of proposed improvements.