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 [email protected] 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. Mother's testimony about toddler's death brings judge to tears


    TAMPA — Nayashia Williams woke up early on May 7, 2014, to the sound of her daughter calling for her. It was the last time the young mother's mornings would begin with a summons from Myla Presley, who couldn't yet climb over the mesh fencing around the playpen she used as a bed.

    Deandre Gilmore looks towards the gallery Tuesday in a Tampa courtroom. Gilmore is accused of killing the 19 month-old daughter of his girlfriend in 2014. He said the child fell while he was giving her a bath. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  2. Speakers: Getting tough can't be only response to teen car thefts


    ST. PETERSBURG — Bob Dillinger remembers coming to Pinellas County as a legal intern in 1975. There were five major poverty zones in St. Petersburg.

  3. Internal White House documents allege manufacturing decline increases abortions, infertility and spousal abuse


    White House officials working on trade policy were alarmed last month when a top adviser to President Donald Trump circulated a two-page document that alleged a weakened manufacturing sector leads to an increase in abortion, spousal abuse, divorce and infertility, two people familiar with the matter told the …

  4. Black entrepreneur says city stiffing him on project after he endorsed Rick Baker


    ST. PETERSBURG — A prominent African-American resident says his endorsement of mayoral candidate Rick Baker has led city officials to freeze him out of a major construction project along the historic "Deuces" stretch of 22nd Street S.