CLEARWATER – The city of Dunedin says Pinellas County isn’t doing its part to maintain the beach causeway.
The Dunedin commission passed a resolution Oct. 6 asking county commissioners to “take all appropriate steps to correct insufficient maintenance on the Dunedin Beach Causeway.”
Pete Yauch, director of transportation and stormwater, told county commissioners during their regular meeting Nov. 8 that it was a “level of service issue.” He said staff was working on a response to the city to resolve the issue.
In its resolution, Dunedin commissioners said beach erosion has caused swales, potholes and gullies in areas the county is obligated to maintain. Furthermore, the damage caused by the erosion is making certain areas unsafe to drive, park or even walk on, and the build-up of sand along the shoulder of the Pinellas Trail causes ponding of water along the roadway. In addition, blowing sand on the Pinellas Trail makes it unsafe for bikers and walkers.
Yauch said the county had filled the area with crushed shells during March and April, but acknowledged that rainy weather had created problems the city describes in its resolution. He also acknowledged that an agreement between the county and the city made it the county’s responsibility to maintain the area so it stays passable and safe for vehicles and foot traffic.
According to an interlocal agreement signed on June 25, 2001, the county is responsible to maintain the paved roadway, roadway off ramps, two graded traveled ways that are north and south of and parallel to the physical roadway, Pinellas Trail spur and all guardrail and bridge structures within 1.2 miles along Causeway Boulevard, aka County Road 712.
In its resolution, Dunedin contends that it has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on the causeway by landscaping enhancements, trash pick-up and removal and constructing restrooms. Dunedin also pays the Sheriff’s Office to patrol the area.
Dunedin officials not only want the county to fix the erosion damage, it also wants the county to do a better job of regularly scheduled beach maintenance per the interlocal agreement.
Keeping the beach causeway in good shape is important, Dunedin officials say. The Dunedin Causeway is considered a scenic corridor and a valued recreation area used by thousands of people on a regular basis. It is the gateway to Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island. More than a million people visit the two local state parks each year. Honeymoon Island is the most attended state park in the state.
Yauch did not say how long it might take staff to develop a response to the city’s request.