Hike and bike trail proposed along Courtney Campbell Causeway

5:02 PM, Mar 24, 2011   |    comments
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Artist rendering of a proposed hike and bike trail along the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

TAMPA, FLORIDA -- Since the Friendship Trail Bridge shut down over safety concerns more than two years ago, people like Larry Parlier notice something missing.

A path for walkers, bicyclists, and roller bladers that goes over Tampa Bay and allows them to take in the scenic views.

"It would be great.  Get the mountain bike out and take a ride.  Have a nice path where it's safe and you don't get run over by the vehicles," Parlier said.

The Florida Department of Transportation wants to make that dream a reality. It's proposing a trail from Tampa to Clearwater, along the Courtney Campbell Causeway.

At a price tag of $20 million, all covered federally, the path would sit between the road and the water.

"I think the path would be a great idea because right now you are basically limited to walking and jogging," said John Fletcher as he walked near the causeway on Thursday.

The trail would run from the west end of Ben T. Davis beach and continue eight miles to Bayshore Boulevard on the eastern edge of Clearwater.

The project, essentially serving as a Friendship Trail Bridge replacement, is waiting on the results of an environmental study, according to FDOT.

Construction could begin next year and be finished by 2016.

"This will be a connection that will be, I think, even better because there's more surrounding trails existing and planned in both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties," said project manager Robin Rhinesmith.

FDOT is still seeking public opinion on the idea.

A meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, March 29th, from 5-7 p.m., at the Tampa Bay Westin.

Written comments can also be submitted until April 8th.

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