Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Anglers upset at being banned from new Courtney Campbell span

TAMPA — Finally.

Tom Alvarez had waited a year — ever since hearing about plans for a pedestrian bridge alongside Courtney Campbell Causeway — for the chance to cast a line from the coveted spot atop the span.

"That's where the good fish are," said Alvarez, 33, of Tampa. "They travel that deeper channel."

So when construction workers took down blockades on the project last week, he was one of the first to go up with a pole, bringing back red and black drum and a bunch of mackerel.

His plans to catch more, however, were thwarted Thursday when he arrived at the bridge to find the Florida Department of Transportation had posted warning signs: No fishing from bridge.

"There's not another place for us to get this access," said Alvarez, who fished off the Friendship Trail Bridge beside Gandy Boulevard before it closed in 2008.

Kris Carson, a DOT spokeswoman, said the fishing ban on the span is a matter of safety — citing photos submitted to the agency by bicyclists as evidence.

The DOT built the 4-mile trail, which includes the .6-mile pedestrian bridge in question, at a cost of $14.6 million from federal money set aside for pedestrian projects, Carson said.

The trail is so new that a ribbon-cutting ceremony is two months off and a portion of it is not complete. Still, Carson said DOT officials realized people would go on the bridge before then.

David Duran of Clearwater rides an average of 200-plus miles a week on his bike. When he rode Sunday across the bridge, he said, he dodged broken glass and fish hooks.

He and other cyclists realized they can't coexist with anglers on that segment of the 16-foot-wide trail. They called Carson and sent emails including pictures of abandoned hooks and fish parts.

Cyclists would go fast, and anglers would set out chairs and coolers and hooks would fly.

"We didn't feel like that's a good mix," Carson said.

She said the intent of the bridge is to improve safety for those walking and biking in the Tampa Bay area, which has double the national average for pedestrian deaths.

Carson said the agency has asked Tampa police to enforce the restriction. Police typically tell those fishing in restricted areas to leave.

Fishing still will be allowed under the bridge and along the bridge approach.

Felix Alicea of Clearwater fishes from the causeway every day, he said, and was dismayed.

"It's a shame," he said Thursday afternoon as he looked for crabs under the bridge.

"There aren't that many bicyclists," Alicea said. "There's more people fishing and it's not that safe here on the slippery rocks."

He had looked up the cost of the bridge. Allowing everyone to use it is the only way that money could be justified, he said.

Mike Lynch, 50, of Leesburg, came out at 8 a.m. Thursday and cast a line under the new pedestrian bridge, after hearing it is the new fishing hot spot.

"Sounds to me like they need to go back and rethink this," Lynch said. Seeing a sign, he had gone down onto the rocks instead and hadn't caught anything by 11 a.m.

"Why would they spend that much money for a bridge and just jog across it?" he asked. "That doesn't sound very sensible."

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at eparker@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3431.

Anglers upset at being banned from new Courtney Campbell span 09/12/13 [Last modified: Thursday, September 12, 2013 11:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Shakeup on Adam Putnam campaign

    Blogs

    In a sign of unsteadiness for what  had  looked like a strong-out-of-the-gate Adam Putnam campaign, the Republican frontrunner suddenly fired his campaign manager and political director. Hard-charging Campaign manager Kristin Davis and political director Jared Small were two of the three outsiders to join …

    Putnam campaigning in Destin the other day as part of his 22-city bus tour
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Tampa man arrested for killing man in his USF-area home

    Crime

    TAMPA — A Tampa man was arrested Monday in the death of man found killed at a home in the University of South Florida area last week, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.

    Kadeem Dareem Archibald, 26, was arrested Monday on a  second degree murder charge in the University Area killing of Khando Kerr. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. Report: Trump asked intel chiefs to push back against FBI collusion probe after Comey revealed its existence

    National

    President Donald Trump asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials in March to help him push back against an FBI investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and the Russian government, the Washington Post reports, citing current and former officials.

    From  left, CIA Director Mike Pompeo; Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats; and National Security Agency Director Adm. Michael Rogers take their seats on Capitol Hill on May 11 before  testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on major threats facing the U.S. [Associated Press]
  5. For Gov. Rick Scott, 'fighting' could mean vetoing entire state budget

    State Roundup

    Every day, Gov. Rick Scott is getting a lot of advice.

    The last time a Florida governor vetoed the education portion of the state budget was in 1983. Gov. Bob Graham blasted fellow Democrats for their “willing acceptance of mediocrity.”