Treasure Island Causeway,
Treasure Island-St. Petersburg
Constructed in 1939 and reconstructed in 2007, the Treasure Island Causeway connects St. Petersburg with Treasure Island and carries Pinellas County CR 150, which is also known as Central Avenue in St. Petersburg and 107th Avenue in Treasure Island. The Treasure Island Causeway consists of three bridges, two fixed bridges on the east and west end and the center bridge being the drawbridge. Unlike most other drawbridges in Pinellas County, the Treasure Island Causeway is owned by the City of Treasure Island even though the city limits dividing St. Petersburg from Treasure Island run right in the middle of the drawbridge.
You are probably wondering how can Treasure Island own a bridge within St. Petersburg? Well, it has a historical beginning just before the Treasure Island Causeway was built: In exchange for Treasure Island owning and operating the causeway structures within St. Petersburg's city limits, St. Petersburg got a municipal beach on the Gulf of Mexico in return, which still exists today on 11260 Gulf Blvd. in Treasure Island.
Like the Corey Causeway, the 1939 Treasure Island Causeway was constructed as a low level drawbridge, necessitating plenty of openings as needed. However, when the original Treasure Island Causeway opened it was operated as a toll facility. So, the City of Treasure Island was responsible for the entire operation of the Treasure Island Causeway from the toll collectors to the bridge tenders. Toll to cross the original Treasure Island Causeway was 50 cents each way or a causeway pass - a sticker which would be a forerunner to today's SunPass technology many years later - could be purchased for a fee.
But the old Treasure Island Causeway was no stranger to news stories about bridge malfunctions as the bridge aged, among other things. Perhaps the most notable incident involving the old bridge was back around 1972 when an elderly couple drove onto the steel grid deck drawbridge, not knowing that the bridge was opening. The bridge tender did not notice this until the steel bridge leaves were all the way up: The car was hanging by its two front tires trapping its terrified occupants. As it occurred on the St. Petersburg side, St. Petersburg Fire and Rescue was called with a ladder truck and the occupants of the car were brought to safety, as well as the car itself.
From the late 1970's onward the Treasure Island Causeway was deteriorating to a point that the 1939 spans were structurally deficient. Weight limits were posted to help by keeping the huge trucks off of the causeway but time was taking its toll. In 2004 construction began on the replacement of the Treasure Island Causeway with the new bridges as we know today.
However, with costs so prohibitive it was thought that tolls were to be continued in order to help pay for a replacement bridge. But the City of Treasure Island got a gift from the Federal Government thanks to Congressman C. W. "Bill" Young: Money to replace the Treasure Island Causeway bridges. The City of Treasure Island was grateful for the needed money to replace the bridges but it came with one stipulation: The tolls collected since 1939 would have to be lifted. Congressman Young's name would be inscribed on the plaque that stands today at the entrance to the bridge tender's house. Once construction began on the replacement drawbridge of the Treasure Island Causeway the City of Treasure Island was out of the toll collection business.
The new Treasure Island Causeway as it stands today features a well-done art deco design, especially at the drawbridge. The bridge tender's house is well designed featuring 21st Century drawbridge technology which includes operation of the bridge using a touch screen monitor connected to a computerized control. One has to admire how the bridges were artfully built including the bridge tender's house. The new Treasure Island Causeway bridge will be here for many decades to come.