Work on a multi-use trail alongside one of the Tampa Bay area’s most iconic roads is underway.
Clearwater city leaders passed a resolution in support of naming the multi-use trail being built along the south side of the Courtney Campbell Causeway Scenic Highway the Courtney Campbell Trail recently.
More than 50,000 drivers - including some from south Tampa - take to the scenic highway daily, and surely the trail linking the bay will be popular as well. But what do you know about the road’s namesake?
Campbell, from Chillicothe, MO, served as a second lieutenant in the army during World War I, according to the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress.
After the Great War he studied law. Following graduation, he started a practice in Tampa in 1923, according to his 1971 obituary in the St. Petersburg Times. He also worked as a developer, banker and a farmer growing citrus crops.
Campbell was vice president and Florida manager of a company that manufactured packaging and mechanical processing equipment for citrus canning plants. The company also built amphibious vehicles during World War II.
Campbell, a resident of Clearwater Beach, was a member of the Florida Road Board from 1942-47 and was a one-term U.S Representative from 1953-55, according to the congressional biography.
The park space along the causeway was developed at Campbell’s urging in the late 1940s during his stint on the State Road Board. He also envisioned linking Pinellas and Manatee counties which became the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, first built in 1954.
Aside from pushing for needed road repairs and improvements, Campbell worked to develop and save park land space for residents and tourists.
He was part of a group to establish what became Ft. DeSoto and Phillippe parks.
Campbell died at 76 in Dunedin.
Paving A Name
What is now known as the Courtney Campbell Causeway was constructed by Capt. Ben T. Davis as a toll road in the late 1920s.
The more direct route between Clearwater and Tampa was completed in 1934.
The road was in serious disrepair when the state made a push to pay for improvements in 1948. These were spearheaded by Campbell, who the roadway was named for.
However, the naming was controversial. Hundreds of Hillsborough residents signed a petition to have a marker in honor of Davis placed along the road.
Even with piecemeal repairs the bridge still suffered from needed long term work. The bridge was closed for 10 days in 1971 for repairs, and after that there was a 6,000-pound weight limit on vehicles put in place. In 1972, a $5.4 million project constructed a new parkway.
More work was planned for the road in 1986. The $11 million project added a barrier wall and lights down the middle of the causeway, widened the lanes, traffic lights and access roads to the fishing area on both sides.
The work came on the heels of the causeway being the scene of 13 deaths and more than 400 accidents during 1985, according to a 1986 St. Petersburg Times article.
Pedestrian Parkway Added Along Highway
A multi-use trail is being built along the southside of the scenic highway along the eastbound lanes.
Work on the $14.6 million pedestrian and bicycle friendly pathway started over the summer.
When complete, it will feature a 12-foot wide pathway with a 45-foot-tall bridge spanning Old Tampa Bay. The 3.9-mile-long segment is expected to be complete in September 2013, according to the Florida Department of Transportation.
Courtney Campbell Causeway timeline:
2013: work on multi-use trail expected to be complete in September
2012: work on multi-use trail begins during the summer
2005: road is designated a scenic highway
1985: considered one of the states "killer roadways" is the scene of 13 deaths and 400 accidents
1971: road is closed for 10 days while emergency construction takes place
1948: road is named in honor of Campbell
1934: Construction of the Davis Causeway toll road is complete
1927: Work starts on Davis Causeway (what would become the Courtney Campbell Causeway)