Clearwater, Florida -- The Florida Department of Transportation has decided to not allow fishing on the newly constructed Courtney Campbell Causeway pedestrian bridge.
"Immediately after it opened this week, we had bicyclists complaining about the fishermen casting their lines and leaving dead fish all over the new bridge, so we had to do something right away," said Kristen Carson, the FDOT spokesperson.
"I think it is unfair, because we waited a year while they closed this whole area off to build the bridge and now we cannot even use it for fishing," said Tampa angler, Allison Moore.
"There is deeper water under the bridge and a channel where some bigger fish swim," said Justin Poirier, another angler.
Meantime, bicyclists and walkers are happy to see there are no fishing signs posted along the bridge.
"At other spots I have had to dodge anglers fish hooks, worried about gets caught in the face or the back," said a local bicyclist.
Carson said trash is a huge problem from the fishermen.
"We had many cyclists send in pictures of the dead fish and bait and water bottles, and even a bottle of urine sitting along the new walkway right after it opened," said Carson.
"It is challenging enough to just bike and pay attention to the other runners and bikers, but it tough dodging birds that are flying all over hunting for bait or food left over by the fishermen," said Silvia Robinson, another bicyclist.
FDOT is allowed by the state to decide whether or not to allow anglers along a pedestrian pathway.
It states in a Florida statute:
"316.1305 Fishing from state road bridges.-
(1) The Department of Transportation is authorized to investigate and determine whether it is detrimental to traffic safety or dangerous to human life for any person to fish from a state road bridge. When the Department of Transportation, after due investigation, determines that it is dangerous for persons to fish from such a bridge, it shall post appropriate signs on the bridge stating that fishing from the bridge is prohibited.
(2) Fishing from a bridge upon which the Department of Transportation has posted signs as provided in subsection (1) is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a pedestrian violation as provided in chapter 318.
(3) This section is cumulative and is not intended to repeal any special law making it unlawful to fish from any bridge.
History.-s. 158, ch. 29965, 1955; ss. 23, 35, ch. 69-106; s. 239, ch. 71-136; s. 4, ch. 84-309; s. 18, ch. 96-350.
Note.-Former s. 339.27."
Tampa police will be patrolling the bridge informing anglers not to fish over it and only under or around it.