The Courtney Campbell Causeway is known more for the vehicular traffic that zooms overland between Tampa and Clearwater's beaches. But pedestrians and bicylists can expect in the near future to make that entire trek on a parallel Courtney Campbell Trail
, and along the way enjoy breathtaking views of Old Tampa Bay.
The trail on the Hillsborough County side of the bay is complete along with Tampa's new Cypress Point Park playground and a 45-foot high bridge at the county line between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. The next phase involves the trail's tie-in to Pinellas and Clearwater.
Completion of the project by Pepper Contracting
is more than a year away, according to Florida Department of Transportation officials. Trail and road widening are under way. In addition the causeway will be repaved and a small pedestrian bridge built. Test piles for the bridge are installed.
When finished, the trail will allow pedestrian and bicycle access from Veteran's Expressway in Tampa to Bayshore Boulevard on the eastern edge of Clearwater. Bayshore leads to Safety Harbor and more trails. It also will connect with additional recreational trails on both sides of the Bay.
The approximately 9.5 mile causeway trail is a project championed by the Westshore Alliance,
which last year unveiled a Public Realm Master Plan to make the Westshore neighborhoods of Tampa more pedestrian and bicycle friendly. Trails, wider sidewalks and narrower traffic lanes are among the recommendations.
"We're excited about the trail. It will be one of the premier trails in the entire United States," says Ron Rotella, executive director of the Westshore Alliance, which represents the interests of the Westshore Business District.
The district is Florida's largest office community with more than 4,000 businesses and 93,000 employees.
The Westshore area is booming with new shops, restaurants and offices. But residents of established neighborhoods, such as Carver City and Lincoln Gardens, soon will have new neighbors moving into more than 1,700 apartments either under construction or ready for leasing. "We're turning into a neighborhood as well," Rotella says.
Many of the new apartments front Boy Scout Boulevard which is slated for resurfacing later this year. Plans also are to widen sidewalks and enhance existing cross walks.
The alliance is contributing about $113,000 to help with pedestrian improvements and make it easier to walk to International Plaza as well as shops and restaurants on Westshore Boulevard. In the 2014-2015 Hillsborough County budget, Rotella anticipates about $1.3 million for a Westshore Boulevard redesign.
And he also is looking ahead to another trail segment from Dale Mabry Highway at Interstate 275 to Hesperides Street with a tie-in to Cypress Point Park and then onto Clearwater via the Courtney Campbell Trail.
"Being able to access a beautiful waterway, that is a great advantage for the business district," Rotella says.
Writer: Kathy Steele
Source: Ron Rotella, Westshore Alliance