Unseasonably warm winter weather has ushered in an early "spring-like" feeling in Clearwater, and, unfortunately, this is most obvious in the traffic and construction delays found on Clearwater Beach. Saturday brought enormous crowds out to the beach, and the new bridge brought little relief to those experiencing one hour travel delays from downtown.
Lack of parking was the most significant obstruction to alleviating traffic backed up through the roundabout and onto the Memorial Causeway. As local Jared Motzenbecker explained, "There is never enough parking on Clearwater Beach." The parking lot at Pier 60 filled early in the day on Saturday, and an unsightly line of parked cars lined the southern edge of the causeway by mid-afternoon. And yet the cars just kept inching across the bridge hoping to find some place to park on Clearwater Beach.
Construction on sewer lines at the corner of Mandalay Avenue and Baymont caused huge delays for those trying to exit north Clearwater Beach throughout the weekend. One resident called the police on Friday afternoon only to be informed that no plans had been made to call in additional patrols to help ease traffic flow. One can only imagine the delays that will be caused when the Beach Walk construction begins on Gulf Boulevard.
The bad news for Clearwater Beach residents and visitors alike is that the worst is yet to come. Hopefully, the city will make some alternative plans to alleviate congestion both on and off the beach before schools recess for spring break and the Phillies fans arrive. If not, we're going to see a lot of angry customers, with tourism dollars to spend (or not), on Clearwater Beach.
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