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City to widen way for beach walkers

(ran Beach edition)

City crews will be working throughout the summer to widen the sidewalk along Treasure Island's beach.

City Manager Chuck Coward said he received a permit Thursday from the Department of Environmental Protection to begin the project.

The mile-long beachwalk, stretching from the Holiday Inn to the county park off Gulf Boulevard, will be widened from 5 to 10 feet. The side nearest the beach will be expanded.

City commissioners included $20,000 for the project in their 1997-98 budget.

The recreational trail is used by walkers, bikers and rollerbladers. "The utilization factor is very high, and we believe it has come to the point that for safety reasons it needs to be widened," Coward said.

The trail project was initiated by longtime City Commissioner Julian Fant, who left office in March.

"Early on when I first came here and had initial meetings with each of the commissioners, Julian mentioned that right from the start," Coward said.

Fant said he and his wife, Millie, walk along the beachfront trail at least three times a week.

"We park at the county park and walk down to the Holiday Inn and out to the boulevard and back," he said. "We've found that there's just too much congestion on it. We've been surprised several times by bikers coming up behind us and rollerbladers that we didn't know were there.

"There's just a little bit of an element of danger with it being so narrow," he said.

Fant said he also hopes the city will consider designating one side of the walkway for pedestrians and the other side for bikers and rollerbladers.

"I talked to Chuck about that the other evening and I think he might consider that," Fant said.

Coward said he expects the trail to be widened by the end of the summer.