The city of Tampa
will invest nearly $30 million in three infrastructure projects that aren't likely to stir up the kind of excitement that comes with news of a new residential tower or hotel in downtown.
But those projects, mostly out of sight and below ground, are part of a long-term effort to expand and upgrade the city's aging water lines to meet the demand of a growing urban population. Among the benefits are increased water pressure and fire hydrant flows.
Construction will begin on all projects in January and last approximately 18 months. Each project costs slightly under $10 million.
"It's not something shiny and flashy but it's something equally important," says Tricia Shuler, a construction engineer for CH2M Hill
, the engineering firm hired by the city to oversee the projects.
Former Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio started the expansion and upgrades to the city's utility infrastructure nearly six years ago in East Tampa. Since then, various Utility Capital Improvement Projects (UCAP)
, also by CH2M Hill, have replaced and extended water and sewer lines into the downtown area and South Tampa.
One noticeable change will be the conversion of Cass and Tyler Streets from one-way to two-way streets and the construction of a cycle track where bicyclists will be separated from vehicular traffic by a concrete barrier.
"It's going to become a very appealing asset through downtown," Shuler says. "People will feel like they live in a big city."
The changes to Cass and Tyler are part of Invision Tampa
, a blueprint that emerged from Mayor Bob Buckhorn's efforts to redevelop the downtown core and surrounding neighborhoods. The goal is to restore the downtown's street grid which for years has been dominated by one-way streets.
CH2M Hill also will bury box culverts to ease flooding along Rome Avenue and Cypress Street. This will set the stage for future storm water projects.
Work will continue on installation of a 36-inch water transmission line from David L. Tippin Water Treatment Facility to South Tampa. In December CH2M Hill completed construction of a 500-foot tunnel across the Hillsborough River to minimize the impact of pipeline installation on the environment.
Additional work will extend the pipeline from North Jefferson and East Cass streets, then along Tyler to Fortune, west across the river and end at North Boulevard and West Cass.