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City moves forward with $11 million Central Ave. project

Mark Parker

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Councilmember Copley Gerdes, speaking at the future site of Bayfront Health's Emergency Room & Medical Pavilion - Crossroads in March, represents the west side of St. Petersburg. The city council recently approved an $11 million project for Central Avenue on that side of the city. Photo by Mark Parker.

A long-awaited streetscaping and infrastructure project is finally on its way to the west side of Central Avenue in St. Petersburg.

During Thursday’s meeting, city council members approved a $10.89 million bid from Kamminga & Roodvoets, Inc. of Tampa for a water main replacement and beautification project throughout the westernmost portion of Central Avenue. The sidewalk, crosswalk and infrastructure improvements will stretch from Park Street in Pasadena to 58th Street.

Brejesh Prayman, capital improvements director for St. Pete, said the city developed the project through extensive collaboration with residents. Officials conducted door-to-door outreach, and held three community stakeholder meetings, and public workshops and two public meetings and surveys, with over 600 residents participating in the programs. Prayman said the city also coordinated with the Florida Department of Transportation, Pinellas County and the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA).

“The project objective really draws towards the aims of equitable development, arts and business opportunities, neighborhood and health safety and environment and infrastructure resilience,” said Prayman.

“By improving pedestrian safety, roadway safety, the aesthetics of the environment as well as infrastructure upgrades.”

The length of the project is shaded in yellow. Prayman called that section of Central Avenue the city’s western gateway. Screengrab.

The city, said Prayman, will improve area sidewalks and accessibility while adding landscaping to the medians. New signage and pavement striping are coming to the area, and the intersections with Park, 66th and 58th Streets will receive new mast arm traffic signals.

A dedicated bike lane will span the project’s limits, and the city is adding pedestrian crosswalks at 73rd Street, 71st Street, Pinellas Way, 65th Street, between 63rd and 62nd Streets, 61st Street and east of 60th Street.

Prayman called that segment of Central Avenue the western gateway to the city, yet said it is currently a wide and sparse section of pavement.

“It encourages high speeds,” he added. “So, we’re trying to create that environment that’s more welcoming as you progress down into St. Petersburg.

“We’re going to set that expectation of how you drive into the City of St. Pete now.”

In addition to beautification and safety improvements, the city is also replacing water mains, hydrants, service connections and meters throughout the route. The infrastructure work, which Prayman said is one of the more complex aspects of the project, could cause disruptions for motorists and residents.

Prayman told council members the city would send construction notifications to all people and businesses within the project’s limits. The administration expects the work to span 540 days, although that could extend based on weather and material availability.

“It’s a long project,” said Prayman. “There’s quite a bit of work to be done … ”

As such, Prayman explained that many residents and business owners might experience disruptions for a couple of days and then not see construction for several weeks. Due to the nature of the work, he added that the city must complete some elements at night.

Prayman said traffic volume and water service demands are lower at night, and working during those times will mitigate impacts. He also noted that many restaurants exist along the span of the project, and officials hope to minimize interference with those establishments.

“So, we’re going to have to adjust,” he said. “We’re going to have to work with the environment we’re in and with the services that we do provide.”

A rendering of what the intersections will look like once construction is complete. Screengrab.

Councilmember Copley Gerdes expressed his excitement for the project, as his family lives nearby and frequently walks or bikes that section of Central Avenue. He noted that pedestrians must walk in bike lanes or across grass easements when traversing from Park Street to Pasadena Avenue due to the lack of sidewalk connectivity.

“Cars are flying through there – I’m afraid to be on that road on my bike, frankly,” said Gerdes. “I think this plan has been in the works since 2015 … and so, I’m very excited to have this while I’m here.

“I just want to thank the mayor and all the staff for getting this done.”

The city council unanimously voted to accept Kinnga & Roodvoets’ bid of $10,889,401.98 for the project’s construction, with Councilmember Ed Montanari absent. The administration is appropriating the money through the Citywide Infrastructure Capital Improvement Fund.

 

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    John G Powell

    June 21, 2022at3:53 pm

    I hope that your not planning on eliminating any lanes on Central Ave. A problem now exist at the intersection of Pasasena Avenue and 1st Avenue north and south which has been agrivated by the designation of bus only lanes on Pasadena Ave. It has become a dangerous bottle neck. Please don’t make it worse.

  2. Avatar

    Michael Condon

    June 21, 2022at7:14 pm

    Have decision makers with ‘ brains and perspective’ make these changes. Changes to benefit EVERYONE not just the plans submitted by the company awarded the project. They execute it and move on and all the officials take credit. And we have to live with the results!
    Make it better not worse. This is a very populated area with high volume traffic . Speeders who will speed despite center island trees and plans to make people slow down as they approach downtown. The overgrowth of downtown is bringing more traffic and people here. And the utilities aren’t equipped to handle it. So make the changes complement each other and real improvements. Remember: ” Plan………………………
    Ahead ! “

  3. Avatar

    Michael Benedict

    June 22, 2022at10:12 pm

    I think they should concentrate on The flow of Traffic on I-275 between I-175, & I-375,where Traffic Narrows down to 2 Lanes, and Cause Huge Back-Up’s going thru St Petersburg. South & North. Tampa Corrected Thier Problem by Adding A THIRD LN. Issue Resolved.. Can’t Our Highway Engineers Figure This
    Out, Instead of Working About A Useless Bus Lane.. Which I’m Sure Won’t Be Utilize, By Our Residents or Tourist

  4. Avatar

    Marianne Martin

    June 23, 2022at12:29 am

    For years first avenue North and South have been used to expidestiously move the working class in and out of the downtown. On the other hand, Central Ave with it’s 20+ stop lights is designed for the slower paced traffic like buses, trollies, and bicyclist. First of all, the sidewalks are too wide. This will only encourage eateries to block portions of this massive sidewalk with chairs,tables, planters,etc. Look at the downtown sector in it’s present condition. Besides,there are already going to be bike lanes. Narrowing the sidewalks and keeping the bike lanes solely on central avenue will make the area safer. Next, get rid of the decorative center islands. They are a waste of money and a road hazard. They block a driver’s clear path of vision and if a car bumps into one of these, the vehicle could end up on the sidewalk or worse. Besides removing these, reduce the number of lanes of vehicle traffic to one in each direction. This is what will greatly deter speeding and racing. Finally, the additional square footage that is gained will allow for angled parking spaces to be installed on both sides of Central Ave in order to accommodate all the newer residents that have moved into the area since 2018 as well as all those near-future residents who will need parking when the developers buy out the existing FL cracker homes and strip stores to build apartments and townhomes. Just a simple glance eastward on Central Avenue will almost guarantee that housing development will continue this manner.
    In regards to when the work should be done;daytime, when the majority of people are at work and not sleeping. Sleep deprived people are cranky. The work will get done faster and it will be easier to find laborers.

  5. Avatar

    Sharon Haske

    June 23, 2022at10:00 am

    Not sure why the bus lane was ever approved in the first place that was voted down by the people why doesn’t our vote count anymore? It will only bring more crime to areas that don’t have it. I saw it happen in other states before not a good idea. A BIG waste of money.

  6. Avatar

    Chris

    June 23, 2022at3:14 pm

    We have be non stop disrupted this entire year with all the construction for the piping and the bus lane. We were told a week in January and it’s still going on. They leave debris all over the place in which I have to clean up. And as for the “residents ” being contacted?? We weren’t contacted in any way shape or form. I’m absolutely not for any more road work. The city has already made it worse. Go fix I4 and finish 275 before you open another project. We don’t want it

  7. Avatar

    T Baker

    June 25, 2022at12:09 pm

    We live right off of 1st Ave N, and I can honestly say I have not heard one person in my neighborhood that voted for the bus lanes! A huge waste of money that does NOT benefit the community that is directly affected by reduced traffic lanes. Traffic In and out of downtown using 1st Ave North and South used to flow beautifully. It has now become a nightmare.

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