Blue Run of Dunnellon Park is a 33.4-acre park that had nearly 155,000 visitors over the past two years. Because of this increase in ecotourism, pedestrian safety in the area around Blue Run of Dunnellon Park and the Dunnellon Trail has become a significant priority for the County.
The county requested $2.5 million in appropriation requests in the state’s budget in order to help fund this project. This amount was approved by Governor Ron DeSantis via House Bill 3039 on June 2, 2022.
These funds will allow Marion County, in collaboration with the City of Dunnellon, to begin work on the addition of a protected pedestrian lane on the existing bridge over the Rainbow River that is adjacent to the eastbound lane of Pennsylvania Avenue. The county is also looking to create a multi-modal trail designed to connect the Heart of Florida Loop Shared-Use Trail and the Dunnellon Trail to Blue Run of Dunnellon Park.
The addition of a protected lane will serve as a safe throughway for visitors using the park, while also allowing the users of the Heart of Florida Loop Shared-Use Trail access into local businesses such as hotels, bike shops and restaurants in downtown Dunnellon.
The project will also allow the re-alignment of vehicular traffic on the two-lane bridge crossing over the Rainbow River just east of Dunnellon, providing safe passage for pedestrians and visitors who come from all over the region to spend time on the river.