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New comfort stations offer respite for those biking, walking Courtney Campbell Trail

By Jasmine Wildflower Osmond, Times Correspondent
Ten new shelters have been installed on the Hillsborough County side of the Courtney Campbell Trail. New shelters, as well as an overpass, are planned in Pinellas County, too. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]

TAMPA — To motorists passing by, the concrete and metal parts appearing alongside the Courtney Campbell Causeway may resemble a series of solar panels in-the-making or maybe a modern art installation.

But close up, over the two months of delivery and assembly, the design became clear to father and fisherman Pedro Ospina of Tampa.

They are small clusters of cube-shaped concrete benches sheltered by metal roofs — ten "comfort stations" for pedestrians and bicyclists traveling the Hillsborough section of the Courtney Campbell Trail.

"It’s always been a good place to fish, but now there’s also a place to get out of the sun," Ospina said. "It’s also a lot prettier and makes it more welcoming."

The $878,720 project was a collaboration among Tampa, Hills-borough County and the Florida Department of Transportation, said Brad Suder, superintendent of design and planning for the city of Tampa. The stations run west from a point beyond Ben T. Davis Beach and its larger concrete shelters.

One shelter has an air pump for filling bicycle tires and a faucet to replenish water bottles. The project also included bike racks, new landscaping and signs marking trail points.

The benches are made of solid concrete and some have no backs, so they’re designed more for a brief respite than an afternoon picnic, Suder said.

They’re a welcome new feature, especially on a sunny or windy day, for those who travel the trail — a paved 9.5-mile path that runs along the entire southern side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway from the Veterans Expressway in Tampa to Bayshore Boulevard in Clearwater.

The trail, normally open from sunrise to sunset, is popular for scenic views including a panorama of Old Tampa Bay from the 45-foot-high bridge in the middle.

Clearwater and Pinellas County are working on designs for rest stations on their side of the trail.

Current plans call for two stations as well as a pedestrian overpass connecting the trail from its western end with Bayshore Boulevard to the north, said Gina Harvey, Pinellas County Transportation traffic engineering coordinator. Travelers have to cross at a traffic light there now.

Plans are expected to be finalized in the next few months, Harvey said, but the project may take a couple of years to build.

Contact Jasmine Wildlfower Osmond at [email protected]