DUNEDIN — Major road closures are on tap as Dunedin officials embark next week on a yearlong stormwater pipe replacement project that will relieve chronic flooding on the city's south side.
The $3 million project calls for the installation of larger drainage pipes along a half-mile stretch of Orangewood Drive, from Edgewater Drive almost to Milwaukee Avenue, and along intersecting portions of Citrus, Broadway, Douglas and Highland avenues.
Officials warn that the project will mean mail, trash and parking disruptions — sometimes for as many as four to six weeks at a time.
Motorists also will be plagued with intermittent traffic detours. One of the first phases will shut down a portion of Alt. U.S. 19 — called Edgewater Drive in Dunedin — at Orangewood Drive for about two weeks in September. Traffic along the major thoroughfare will be detoured temporarily onto Sunset Point Road in Clearwater, then north onto Highland and Patricia avenues.
Public Works Director Doug Hutchens "apologized in advance" for the inconveniences, and said the city vows to "make this work as painlessly as possible."
"It's going to challenge your patience when we're near your home," Hutchens told about two dozen residents who attended a public meeting on the project's impact at the Hale Activity Center Tuesday night.
"But it's something that needs to be done," he said. "It's in the city's best interests, in your best interests as a homeowner to address these issues now."
Construction officially kicks off Tuesday. That's when workers with Keystone Excavators Inc. of Oldsmar will begin building an outfall structure to smoothly disperse water from the new pipes into the St. Joseph Sound. The device will reduce soil erosion and thus improve water quality, officials said.
Actual pipe installation starts in September, at Orangewood and Alt. U.S. 19. Workers will then move east along Orangewood toward Milwaukee Avenue, working in phases that will prompt various traffic pattern changes.
Crews anticipate wrapping up Orangewood and branching off onto side roads in February. The targeted completion date is August 2012.
As crews begin moving down side roads, street parking and driveway access will be restricted. Hutchens advised residents to begin coordinating with their neighbors now to secure alternative parking or to plan to park at the Dunedin Public Library, 223 Douglas Avenue.
In response to residents' questions Tuesday, city engineer Tom Burke said officials are working with the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office in an effort to secure temporary permits to allow parking in city lots. The city is also working on parking alternatives for residents with trailers or boats.
Burke said the city also is working with the U.S. Postal Service to temporarily relocate mail delivery to a designated pickup location on a "block-by-block basis."
Officials advised residents to put out trash bins by 6:30 a.m. on their assigned garbage days, so sanitation workers can collect them before construction workers arrive around 7 a.m. Crews are expected to work five days a week and wrap up around 4 p.m.
The project won't affect access to the Pinellas Trail, officials said.
About $1.2 million of project costs will be covered by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, which signed on to help the city address water quality issues.
The new pipes will effectively reduce the amount of stormwater that's discharged into the St. Joseph Sound, Hutchens said. In addition, he said, the new filtration system will screen, separate and trap debris, sediment, oil and grease from stormwater runoff.
Reach Keyonna Summers at email@example.com or (727) 445-4153.