Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Dunedin Causeway parking lot 'like an obstacle course'

A truck navigates a large depression in an easement used to gain access to the south side of the Dunedin Causeway.


A truck navigates a large depression in an easement used to gain access to the south side of the Dunedin Causeway.

DUNEDIN — Kim Allison loves pulling off the Dunedin Causeway to fish and relax on the beach.

So at least three times a week, the longtime Dunedin resident slowly edges her way into the beach's sandy parking lot, being careful to avoid the large potholes and gullies.

The 50-year-old critical care nurse has gotten used to the way her car rocks as she expertly navigates over large stones and around birds bathing in the water-filled craters.

"It's like an obstacle course," Allison said.

The situation has gotten so bad that the Dunedin City Commission has passed a resolution asking Pinellas County to step up and honor a 2001 interlocal agreement to assist with the causeway's maintenance.

According to the resolution, beach erosion and water runoff from the causeway has carved deep valleys that make "certain areas unsafe to drive, park or even walk on."

And beach erosion isn't the only problem. Residents who live along the causeway say sand constantly blows onto the Pinellas Trail and accumulates on the shoulder, causing water to pond along the roadway and making it unsafe for bikers and walkers.

Dunedin officials — who have unsuccessfully lobbied the county for help for months — say they fear for the safety of the 1 million annual visitors who might visit the beach on their way to or from Honeymoon Island and Caladesi state parks.

"It's something we want to preserve for future generations, and it's important they invest in it," said Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski. "It just can't be a once-a-year issue."

County officials understand the concern, but budget cuts have forced them to prioritize road and bridge maintenance in recent years.

Under their agreement, Dunedin is to maintain the bathrooms and concession area surrounding Sail Honeymoon's boat rental station, said Dunedin parks and recreation director Vince Gizzi. The city also cuts grass and maintains the median and causeway welcome signs.

Pinellas County, he said, is responsible for everything else.

Pete Yauch, Pinellas County's director of transportation and stormwater, acknowledged that Dunedin contacted the county back in May. He said county workers responded to the area, but "scheduling and finding the resources to do the work" has been an issue.

Funding for a landscape beautification program, which helped pay for restorations to Dunedin's beach and parking area, was eliminated about three years ago, he said. Now officials only come out for issues that pose a great danger, like sharp dropoffs or guardrail issues.

But Yauch said officials have tried to fulfill the agreement when they can: About six to nine months ago, the county brought in $60,000 worth of sand and shell, then graded it. "Without some stabilized base, the sand moves around as traffic drives on it and as you get heavy rains. So there's not really a good solution except regular maintenance," Yauch said. "We've just got to find a working solution."

Regular beach visitors this week said they've noticed the deterioration. Some reported seeing cars get stuck in the deep ruts during rainstorms. Others said the ditches also have an upside: They remind drivers that they should be moving slowly anyway.

Ken Smith, 54, of Tampa said the area's popularity has increased traffic over the years, creating a "Catch-22" situation because it's cars that cause the problem.

"It's a shame because it's gorgeous out here," he said. "Some permanent solution or ongoing maintenance is needed because the cars are going to come."

Keyonna Summers can be reached at or (727) 445-4153.

Dunedin Causeway parking lot 'like an obstacle course' 10/14/11 [Last modified: Friday, October 14, 2011 10:14pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays waste repeated opportunities in 5-3 loss to Blue Jays

    The Heater

    TORONTO — Rays manager Kevin Cash made a case for urgency before Thursday's game, in both actions and words, making significant changes to the structure of the lineup and sincere comments about time running short.

    Trevor Plouffe of the Rays reacts as he pops out with the bases loaded in the sixth inning. [Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images]
  2. Spanish PM voices solidarity with Barcelona


    BARCELONA, Spain — Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy says his country is mourning in solidarity with the city of Barcelona and other cities in Europe that have been hit by deadly extremist attacks.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  3. Confederate statue: Why Bucs, Lightning, Rays took a stand


    They didn't want another Charlottesville.

    Marc Rodriguez, a member of the "Florida Fight for $15" organization, stands in protest along with other activists demanding the Confederate  monument be removed from the old Hillsborough County Courthouse in Tampa. [OCTAVIO JONES   |   Times]
  4. Rep. Larry Ahern gets roughed up by Clearwater City Council

    State Roundup

    It seemed innocuous enough: an "end of session report" from state Rep. Larry Ahern, R-Seminole, to the Clearwater City Council.

    Then Ahern got taken to the woodshed.

    Rep. Larry Ahern is vying for a seat on the Pinellas commission.
  5. Hillsborough County erects wooden barrier to protect Confederate monument from vandalism

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County workers began constructing a wooden barrier around the base of the Confederate monument by the old county courthouse Thursday evening.

    A Hillsborough County construction crew erects a wooden barrier around the Confederate monument at the old county courthouse Thursday, out of concern about potential vandalism. [Courtesy of WTSP]