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The "Ludlam Trail Design Guidelines and Standards" includes research on best practices principles, lessons learned, and recommendations. A detailed plan, section and illustrative perspective were prepared for each of the eight study areas along the trail.

arrow Download the complete 136-page illustrated Ludlam Trail Design Guidelines and Standards (pdf 43.1 MB)

Design and development guide for Miami's Ludlam Trail


The purpose of the Ludlam Trail Design Guidelines and Standards project is to provide specific design solutions for the Ludlam corridor as well as design guidelines and standards for urban trails and linear parks throughout Miami-Dade County. The designs and standards evolved through a process of research and analysis that included studying the best practices of urban trails in America and applying the lessons learned to the local community context.

The Ludlam Trail corridor provides a unique opportunity to develop a 6.2 mile multi-use trail through the heart of Miami-Dade County within a former Florida East Coast (FEC) Railroad Right-of-Way. The trail will provide a safe dedicated and direct route for cyclists and pedestrians to schools, parks, work and shopping. The proposed Ludlam Trail connects more than 34,000 people within a ½ mile walkable service area to 5 additional greenways, 5 schools, 4 parks and 2 transit hubs.

Drawing of trail crossing street

Design ideas for the SW 16th Street crossing showing the use of a flared
median for safe pedestrian and cyclist friendly street crossing.
including a lean rail for cyclists


The study included thorough research and analysis of existing corridor conditions, best practices, national and local comparable trails and facilities, and lessons learned to provide decision-makers with sound recommendations. Each recommendation is incorporated into the design guidelines and includes information on trail width, trail materials, trail lighting, access barriers, signage and wayfinding, corridor vegetation, trail amenities, street crossings, school and park connections, and trail marketing.

The techniques used in the Ludlam Trail Guidelines and Standards included the following:

Research of Official Documents

In an effort to build upon the work of previous planning studies and to ensure the coordination with other official documents, AECOM researched multiple sources of information. The documents reviewed included governing codes and ordinances, guiding documents, regional transportation studies, corridor specific studies and design guidelines. Important findings include the Kendall Corridor Transportation Alternatives Analysis which concludes the need for regional transportation alternatives such as Bus-Rapid Transit and Diesel Light Rapid Transit, however, the Ludlam Trail corridor is not identified as a preferred route due to projected lack of ridership.

Acquisition Strategies

The AECOM and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy team evaluated several acquisition options and current land owner’s needs to prepare a comprehensive approach to acquire the Ludlam Trail corridor. Potential options include quit claim deed, easements, lease and license. When considering the needs/ requirements of the seller to retain the right of egress along the entire length of corridor, options are limited to a fee-simple purchase of the entire corridor and leasing railroad rights back to the seller or a fee-simple purchase of the five-mile abandoned southern section from SW 12th St. south. Of special note, the abandoned southern section is no longer under the jurisdiction of the Surface Transportation Board (STB) which has called into question original property covenants or restrictions.

photo of road with green corridor

Before: the SW 16th Street crossing is a typical two lane local street
at the Ludlam Trail corridor

Existing Conditions

The steering committee conducted a one-day field review of the Ludlam Trail corridor to observe existing conditions. Two constraining land uses were observed within the corridor; active rail service and leases. The active freight rail service is limited to the northern two miles of the corridor while active leases are located throughout. Active leases include sub-surface uses such as fiber optic lines and surface leases such as vehicle parking lots and storage. In a few cases, active billboard leases are maintained within the corridor limits. The corridor width is typically 100 feet, but due to leases, is reduced to 50 feet in places which is an ample width for a trail.

The Ludlam Trail corridor faces many challenges as the demand for open space intended for development increases throughout Miami-Dade County. Corridor encroachment and conflicting land uses are examples of conditions that arise, however, potential user safety is of the highest importance when designing Ludlam Trail. With the corridor’s north to south layout, trail traffic will travel perpendicular to the flow of automobile traffic throughout south-central Miami-Dade County. This leads to a large number of roadway crossings which should be evaluated individually.

Throughout the 6.2 mile length of the Ludlam Trail corridor there are four direct school connections, three park connections, and approximately a dozen neighborhood connections. In addition, the corridor passes over three canals and connects to regional transit and shopping facilities. These connections lead to several opportunities to link the Ludlam Trail with surrounding areas and form a vital transportation alternative.

photo: bicycles on bridge

The Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle is one of the trails studied for the report

Comparable Trails

Several comparable trails were evaluated which pertained to three areas of influence; national comparable trails; Florida comparable trails; and comparable trail facilities. Two national trails studied were the Burke-Gilman Trail, located in Seattle, Washington and the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail, located in Pinellas County, Florida. Both trails have received numerous awards and recognition for providing both transportation and recreational opportunities.

Two local or Florida based trails were also selected for further study and included the Seminole-Wekiva Trail in Seminole County and the West Orange Trail in Orange County. Both trails offered valuable research on safe roadway crossings and types of trail amenities. A unique, yet comparable trail facility was also selected for research. The Chicago Bike Hub, known as the McDonald’s Cycle Center, offers a unique opportunity for transit and trail users to a bike-hub complete with bike lockers, a repair center, restrooms, retail and vending areas. By reviewing these successful examples of shared-use paths and trail facilities, several best practices were identified for further research.

Best Practice Principles

Intending to assist designers and decision-makers on principles, performance measures and best practices, AECOM provided observational research on how people use shared-use paths. Best practice principles explore thresholds and enhance criteria to help guide decision-makers in designing and placing a variety of trail elements and creating street crossings accessible and safe to a variety of potential trail users. Specific areas researched include; pedestrian needs; cyclists and wheeled devices needs; Americans with Disabilities Act/ Universal design; intersections and crossings; grade separated crossings; trail security issues; and gateways.

Lessons Learned

Through the review and analysis of several comparable trails and facilities, ‘lessons learned’ were compiled and opportunities identified for the design of Ludlam Trail. These include important findings on trail widths, separation of facilities, trail surface materials, trail furnishings and amenities, and street crossings.

Recommendations and Standards

The AECOM team developed a set of recommendations for specific conditions of Ludlam Trail. A methodical approach which included the research and analysis of existing corridor conditions, best practice principles, national and local comparable trails and facilities, and lessons learned provides decision makers with sound recommendations for the Ludlam Trail. Each recommendation is incorporated into the design guidelines and includes information on trail width, trail materials, trail lighting, access barriers, signage and wayfinding, corridor vegetation, trail amenities, street crossings, school and park connections, and trail marketing.

diagram of trail cross section

This cross section highlights the approach to decision making with a divided trail
and signage to include directional signs, a trail map and a stop sign

Design Guidelines

Shared-use paths contain many design elements which can help enhance a trail user’s experience and the number of visitors. Eight study areas were identified along the Ludlam Trail corridor based on a number of opportunities and desire for representative areas which demonstrate unique, yet common issues designers will face while planning the trail.

Committee Review Process

The committee review process included presentations to three Miami-Dade Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) committees. Each committee oversees an area of concern within the realm of transportation planning and includes special interests to bicycle and walking facilities. These three committees are Transportation Aesthetics Review Committee, Bicycle Pedestrian Advisory Committee, and Transportation Planning Council.

Community Outreach Plan

The AECOM and Rails-to-Trails Conservancy team has prepared a community outreach plan to build community support for the Ludlam Trail. Steps include identifying key stakeholders, issue identification, informational survey development, a public workshop, advisory board briefings, Commission Board briefings, letters of support from community leaders, a sample Resolution and sample newsletter article.

Budget Level Opinion of Probable Cost Estimate

The AECOM team has prepared an opinion of probable cost estimate intended to guide decision-makers with budget level figures. A two phase approach has been developed which includes an initial phase to complete site preparation work, while a second phase includes the development of the 6.2 mile Ludlam Trail.

Trail Benefits

Ultimately, the Ludlam Trail will:

- Provide alternative transportation choices that include:

- Potentially reduce 270,000 vehicle trips annually from Miami-Dade County streets

- Restore the native vegetation and enhance environmental sustainability of the corridor

- Promote equitable access to community amenities and provide needed green space to nearby affordable housing

- Enhance tourism and promote small business development opportunities

- Coordinate the activities of multiple County initiatives and build upon the grass roots efforts of the local community

- Connect neighborhoods and build a more livable community


For more information on this project, contact Mark Heinicke, Project Manager, Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation Department, Planning and Research Division, 275 NW 2nd St., 4th Floor, Miami, FL 33128 – (305) 755-7811 -

The Trail Design Guidelines were prepared by AECOM, 222 Clematis St., Suite 200 West Palm Beach, FL 33401 - (561) 659-6552 -

arrow Download the complete 136-page illustrated Ludlam Trail Design Guidelines and Standards (pdf 43.1 MB)

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