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DOT studies trail for causeway

By DEMORRIS A. LEE
Published January 5, 2007


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Want to ride your bicycle across the Courtney Campbell Parkway without being bulldozed by a zooming car or truck?

That could happen someday.

The Florida Department of Transportation has awarded the local area $400,000 to study the feasibility of a trail for cyclists, runners and walkers along the causeway and to do the preliminary engineering work.

The study, to be conducted by the DOT, will evaluate the environmental effects and feasibility of adding a bicycle and pedestrian lane for the length of the 9.9-mile causeway, either by attaching a trail to the bridge structures or building a separate, detached trail.

The feasibility study will go out for bid in February. The grant is a result of federal funding that is awarded by the state.

"The existing causeway has a lot of trail, pedestrian potential," said Bill Jonson, a Clearwater City Council member and chairman of the Courtney Campbell Scenic Highway Corridor Advisory Committee.

But, Jonson said, "it's impeded by the major bridges where you have to walk sideways and hope that cars don't run over your toes."

Designated a scenic highway by the state in 2005, the Courtney Campbell is the only direct route between Tampa and Clearwater. There's Ben T. Davis Municipal Beach on the Tampa side and an unnamed beach owned by the DOT on the Clearwater side.

Joggers and bikers often traverse the service roads alongside the causeway. But such travel comes to a halt at the bridges.

"It's simply not safe for bicyclists or pedestrians to go over those bridges when traffic is moving at 60 mph," Jonson said.

About 50,000 vehicles a day travel across the Courtney Campbell, a state highway.

If the connection is built, it will be the second such trail spanning the bay for those who like to run, bike, skate or walk.

In 1999, the old Gandy Bridge opened as a recreational bridge for walkers, family strollers and fishermen. The 2.6-mile bridge is called the Friendship Trail Bridge and averages about 600,000 users a year. It connects Tampa and St. Petersburg.

"It's nothing but good for the community," said Frank Miller, executive director of the Friendship Trail Corp., which supports the Friendship Trail Bridge.

Demorris A. Lee can be reached at 727 445-4174 or dalee@sptimes.com.

Source: Courtney Campbell Scenic Highway Corridor Advisory Committee

Courtney Campbell Parkway

In the late 1920s, Ben T. Davis, a direct descendent of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, wanted to shorten the journey between Clearwater and Tampa.

From 1927 to 1934, Davis, formerly a steamboat captain, worked on the causeway when his company had no other dredging work to do.

The causeway cost $900,000 to build (including two bridges, because one was demolished by a hurricane). It opened Jan. 28, 1934, with a 25 cent toll for a car and driver.

In 1944, as part of the war effort, the federal government seized control of the causeway, paid $1.085-million for the road and transferred ownership to the state.

In 1948, it was renamed for Courtney W. Campbell, a Florida Road Board member, U.S. representative and Clearwater Beach resident, in recognition of his work to make major repairs and beautification possible.

[Last modified January 4, 2007, 21:48:41]


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