TAMPA — He knows he'll face roadblocks and ripped-up streets, but Wofford Johnson says it will be worth the inconvenience.
Work is about to begin on six water and wastewater pipeline projects throughout the city, some of which could help improve water pressure in Johnson's South Tampa neighborhood.
As it is now, low pressure makes it impossible for Johnson to wash dishes and clothes at the same time.
"It's particularly bad on the days when everybody can legally water their lawns. On those days, again, we notice there's a drop in the pressure," he says.
Construction will cost more than $100-million, take years to complete and temporarily close down streets from as far north as Busch Boulevard to south near Gandy Boulevard.
Most of the cost will be covered by increased water rates approved last year by the City Council, and an impact fee for developers created by Mayor Pam Iorio in 2006.
More than 20 neighborhoods will be affected, including Seminole Heights, downtown, Ybor City and Palma Ceia.
"These are projects that have major impacts," Iorio said. "We can't pretend that they don't."
But none of the projects are optional, she said.
Many of the city's water and wastewater pipes are nearly 100 years old. They leak. They burst. And many aren't large enough to handle modern water demands from the city's increased population.
First on the construction agenda: Replacement of an aging sewage line in Sulphur Springs that burst in 2004, sending 21-million gallons of sewer water into the Hillsborough River.
Digging begins next month.
Start dates on the remaining projects are set for next year.
Wendy Nero, a spokeswoman for CH2M HILL, the company hired to do the work, says keeping affected property owners informed is top priority.
The company is hosting community meetings to offer details on the projects, and Nero says it will work with residents to determine exact pipeline routes that won't disturb trees.
To lessen inconvenience during construction, plans call for working on small segments at a time, with those roads blocked for about three weeks.
Mailings and door hangers will be distributed in the weeks before construction starts in each neighborhood.
A Web site offers information on the projects, and a hotline has been established to field questions.
"It's needed," Johnson said of the construction. "You hate to see the neighborhoods torn up, the streets torn up. It's the price you have to pay to see improvements."
Janet Zink can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3401.