CLEARWATER -- Tony Hornick is walking a tightrope these days with his fingers carefully crossed as he dots all i's and crosses all t's.
As is the case with all things in this life, it comes down to money, or the lack of same.
Such is the case with the Belleair Causeway, something -- like the weather -- that everyone talks about but does nothing about.
Well, not quite. Hornick and his crew are doing plenty about the Belleair Causeway. All they can, under the circumstances, in fact.
There is another meeting this evening at Largo High School on the project that has been alive for a long, long time as an idea but has yet to see a smidgen of reality.
Hornick is the project manager that has reached the stage of knowing what it will be. That is almost finally nailed down. Namely, a high span bridge that will travel slightly north of the current roadway from Belleair Shore to Belleair Beach.
What is missing is money. Pinellas County, Hornick says, will contribute funds from the Penny for Pinellas tax.
With the total cost put at $37 million, Pinellas County is going to come up with approximately half. The other half, Hornick says, hopefully will come from the federal government.
To get those federal funds, Hornick indicates, certain particular and specific requirements must be met and Hornick is endeavoring to comply with every jot and tittle of same.
Involved from the federal end are environmental concerns, the Federal Highway Administration, air quality mavens. In other words, lots and lots of red tape.
Hornick's office is in contact with Largo's own Rep. C.W. Bill Young, the area's representative in Congress.
The county folks did their first dog and pony show on this project almost eight years ago with a graphic presentation at the Belleair Beach city hall. There were pictures and graphs and charts and all kinds of goodies.
Beach residents are very much for the project because of the archaic drawbridge that now is more of an impediment to traffic than anything else (halting 100 or so cars to let a tall masted sailboat through is absurd).
Following that exposition of the plans, there was talk and meetings with the county carefully taking into account citizen concerns. Then it sort of went away and there was silence.
A few years later the show was completely cranked up again, just as though the first go-round never happened. The pictures, maps, graphs and charts were trotted out again in the back to square one exercise.
There has been a continuum since then. The project is inching toward reality.
Now, if the feds would just come through. . .
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