LYNN HAVEN, Fla. (WMBB) — Lynn Haven has been waiting for this moment since 2017, Rails to Trails is officially open.

“You’ve been holding your breath now for almost six and a half years since I’ve been here and this project being completed, the emotions are really high for all of us, I walked this trail a couple of days ago, came out, and looked at it, and it does bring tears to your eyes,” City Manager Vickie Gainer said.

For reason for emotion is the trailhead on the south end, at Highway 231. It’s named after an extremely popular retired Mosley educator named Ray Wishart. Wishart was killed while riding his bicycle on Highway 389 in 2016. His grandchildren were the first ones to ride the trail.

“To see them take off and I know Raymond was watching and he was grinning and just so happy that his grandkids had a place and other kids will have a place that they could safely ride,” Diane Wishart said.

There are yellow flashing lights to alert drivers where the trail intersects with roadways.

“Florida leads the nation in bicycle-related deaths so for the city of Lynn Haven to convert a former railroad track into a bike path is the excellent way to get people off the main roads. Walkers and it’s for all abilities, all levels,” PC Cycling Administrator Joe Fritz said.

City officials see the $4.3 million state-funded project as a way to unify the community.

“We saw a man walking his dog and when he got over to Mosley Drive, he picked the dog up, carries a dog across the street, and then they started running again and I’ve had other people tell me, oh, we’ve seen people riding on it and they’re enjoying it and they’re excited about the fact that there is a safe place in Lynn Haven, everybody in the community can come use it,” Wishart said.

The north side trailhead is named after former Lynn Haven Commissioner Frances Wittkopf.