TRAFFIC INBOX: Causeway project to have big ecological impact

By Chuck Henson, Real Time Traffic Expert
Last Updated: Monday, March 05, 2018, 10:13 AM EST

There have been recent morning delays on the Courtney Campbell Causeway that are not characteristic for the drive from Clearwater to Tampa.

Real Time Traffic Expert Chuck Henson looked at road work there that has nothing to do with the road.

The work started last month on the east end of the span near the Ben T Davis beach.

"I have noticed traffic backing up a bit given the lane change configurations," said viewer Mike G. "I'm sure the joggers and cyclists would like to know if the trail is going to be restored to its previous glory when the project is done."

To answer that requires a trip back in time, because the work is to fix an 83-year-old problem.

When Ben T Davis' Davis Dredging Company built the span, it cut off most of the north end from the rest of Tampa Bay.

As a result, the water quality has suffered, according to Florida Department of Transportation spokesman John McShaffrey.

When the span was built, it cut off most of the north end from the rest of Tampa Bay.

"This is about water circulation and water quality and tidal flow," he said. "Right now the tidal flow cannot reach the northeastern quadrant of old Tampa Bay because there's no channel there. It's all west of here."

To fix that, the state is installing a channel -- a small low level bridge where water can flow from the mid-bay to the north bay. It's a small project that will have big ecological impact.

Right now, eastbound traffic has shifted onto temporary lanes. Soon, westbound will shift onto the old eastbound side and the channel construction will start.

Once the north half of the channel is finished, traffic and the bike trail will shift to the north side, and the south end of the channel can be built.

"We will maintain the trail and we will maintain all lanes of traffic throughout the project," McShaffrey said.

Once the channel is finished, the run/bike trail will also be restored to its full capacity.