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 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.”
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.