Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

FWC proposal would widen low-wake zones in Clearwater, Dunedin

A boat, bottom of photo, avoids the channel, and the low-wake zone, under the Memorial Causeway while the boat closer to the marina is in the official channel and low-wake zone.

JIM DAMASKE | Times

A boat, bottom of photo, avoids the channel, and the low-wake zone, under the Memorial Causeway while the boat closer to the marina is in the official channel and low-wake zone.

CLEARWATER — Speeding boaters.

They zip around the regulatory signs posted along the Intracoastal Waterway. They throw up walls of water that erode marina supports and bang against docked vessels. They endanger traveling boaters who actually obey the rules.

Tired of it, Clearwater officials reached out to the state for help, which has come up with a plan that it hopes will stop the scofflaws in their tracks: an expansion of the "slow speed, minimum wake" zone in the Intracoastal Waterway near the Memorial Causeway Bridge.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will hold a public workshop Thursday to present and receive comment on its proposal for the Memorial Causeway. The agency is also proposing a wake zone expansion for the area of the Dunedin Causeway, where there have been similar complaints.

"People are cutting in and out of the channel to get out of the (low wake) zone, " said FWC planner Ryan Moreau.

Added Clearwater harbormaster Bill Morris: "While we have an existing wake zone, we are trying to expand it just so people would slow down."

For Clearwater, FWC officials say, the proposal would update wake zone boundaries originally adopted when a lower, narrow drawbridge connected the mainland and the beaches. The problem of speeding boaters has grown since the 74-foot-tall Memorial Causeway Bridge was completed in 2005, providing enough width for boats to legally speed under the high arc by traveling a few feet east or west of the narrow low-wake zone.

Under current rules, the low-speed zone starts 500 feet south of the Memorial Causeway Bridge and continues to the Seminole boat docks north of downtown. FWC has recommended lengthening the slow-speed zone another 715 feet to the south; the north boundary would stay the same.

Under both the Clearwater and Dunedin bridges, the state also wants to widen the slow-speed zone east and west, encompassing the entire bridge spans rather than just a narrow portion.

Clearwater's request seems to authenticate the concerns of critics of the $2.8 million Clearwater Harbor Marina, who said that waves from the wide Intracoastal Waterway would gradually damage the marina.

So far, Morris said, the damage has been minimal, limited to a few outer pilings.

The city installed state-of-the-art wave attenuators. However, Morris told the City Council last year that boaters often cruise at high speed before throttling down abruptly at the low-wake line, causing waves as high as two feet to continue to batter vessels tied to docks just outside the attenuators.

The city's marina advisory board last year recommended that Clearwater ask the state to widen the wake zone.

For the last six months, FWC personnel in Tallahassee remotely monitored Intracoastal boat traffic from cameras mounted on the docks. While they were at it, agency officials decided to review boat rules throughout the rest of Pinellas County, too.

FWC officers who patrol Honeymoon Island complained that small vessels tend to speed around the narrow wake zone under the Dunedin Causeway Bridge. "It causes a little bit of a safety issue for our officers that folks would be cutting through this area so fast," Moreau said, "so we thought it would be prudent" to also expand the wake zone there.

As part of the countywide review, FWC is also proposing changes to its 20-year-old maps and rule language for clarity.

"The only thing that's changing is how it's worded so it's more clear and concise so boaters and law enforcement can understand where the zone is going to be," Moreau said.

Any input or new ideas that the public presents at Thursday's meeting would undergo an internal review for possible incorporation into the FWC's plan.

Keyonna Summers can be reached at [email protected]

If you go

What: Public workshop on proposed expansion of low-wake zones under the Memorial Causeway and Dunedin Causeway bridges

Who: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

When: 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Clearwater Community Sailing Center, 1001 Gulf Blvd. on Sand Key in Clearwater

Info: Contact Ryan Moreau, FWC planner, at (850) 617-9547 or [email protected] The agency's presentation, as well as a link the public can use to email comments before, during or after the workshop, will be uploaded to the FWC website this week.

FWC proposal would widen low-wake zones in Clearwater, Dunedin 08/31/12 [Last modified: Friday, August 31, 2012 8:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Justin Timberlake in Super Bowl halftime show for first time since 'wardrobe malfunction'

    Celebrities

    Justin Timberlake has finally been invited back to the Super Bowl halftime show, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson caused a national controversy.

    Singer Janet Jackson covers her breast as Justin Timberlake holds part of her costume after her outfit came undone during the halftime show of Super Bowl XXXVIII in Houston in 2004. The NFL announced Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, that Timberlake will headline the Super Bowl halftime show Feb. 4 in Minnesota, 14 years after the "wardrobe malfunction" with Janet Jackson cause a national controversy. [Associated Press]
  2. Here's what happened when 30 high school sophomores gave up their phones for a day

    K12

    LUTZ — They were everywhere at Steinbrenner High School. Teens with panic-stricken faces, furiously slapping one thigh, then the other.

    Grace Hayes, 15, left, and Kai'Rey Lewis, 15, talk and text friends after having a discussion about smartphone technology in Tiffany Southwell's English Literature class at Steinbrenner High last week. Southwell asked theme to give up their phones for a day and write about it. For Lewis, the ride home that day "was the longest bus ride in my life." [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  3. Cuban media treats visit by Tampa City Council as historic event

    Politics

    TAMPA — Delegations of one kind or another have been traveling from Tampa to Cuba for years, even before President Barack Obama took steps to normalize relations between the two countries in December 2014.

    A Tampa delegation to Cuba this week was featured prominently in reports by the state-run media in Cuba, including Granma. From left are Tampa City Council vice chair Harry Cohen, St. Petersburg City Council Chair Darden Rice, Tampa philanthropist David Straz and Tampa City Council Chair Yolie Capin.
  4. As the curtain rises on the Straz Center's biggest shows, the spotlight is on parking

    Transportation

    TAMPA — The Broadway Series, the most lucrative shows of the year for the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, start this week, and this year the center wants all the drama to take place on stage, not during the drive to the theater.

    With downtown Tampa getting busier at night and on weekends, city officials and administrators from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts have been working on ways to unsnarl traffic and help visitors find parking when there are lots of events at the same time. CHRIS ZUPPA   |   Times (2009)

  5. OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times 
Casimar Naiboa pleads for help to capture the killer of his son, Anthony Naiboa. Naiboa, 20, was shot and killed near 15th Street N. and E. Frierson Avenue after getting off the wrong bus in Seminole Heights. A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.