Those who have ridden the roller coaster that is the south end of S Gulfview Boulevard on Clearwater Beach will be happy to hear that the city has a plan to smooth out the rough ride. But first, there will be a delay — a long one.
It is embarrassing that a street in the city's primary tourist area has been allowed to deteriorate and remain in such a condition for so long.
"That road is something else. It's like riding a horse," City Council member Paul Gibson said of driving on the street, which has deep dips because the road bed underneath the pavement has deteriorated.
Yet the City Council decided Monday that the city has little choice but to delay fixing the road until next May. By then, motoring down the street could be an experience akin to driving across a plowed field.
City engineer Michael Quillen told council members Monday that two sections of S Gulfview need work.
Repair work on the first section, from the south end of the new Beach Walk to Hamden Boulevard, will create a more attractive thoroughfare and already has been designed.
But the really bad section of S Gulfview, from Hamden to the Sand Key Bridge, will require a total rebuilding of the road and will take at least six months, even if no problems are encountered.
City officials had hoped to have the whole length of S Gulfview, from the north end of the new Beach Walk to the Sand Key Bridge, completed before Tampa hosts the Super Bowl in January 2009.
But Monday, Quillen told council members the design of the project segment from Hamden to the bridge is at least two months from completion. After that, the job would have to be bid out and a contractor hired. Quillen said that even with fast-tracking the design work and bidding process, he didn't see how work on the road could begin before September.
That meant that S Gulfview would be torn up for the Ironman Triathlon this November. And for the Super Bowl in January. And perhaps even for spring break 2009.
Council members said they didn't want that, and they also were nervous about trying to speed up the design work to get an earlier start. They said they wanted the project done right the first time.
Reluctantly, they conceded that the work would have to be delayed until next May. That means the segment of the street from the old Adam's Mark Hotel site to Hamden Boulevard will have to be closed again, after being disrupted for the Beach Walk project and only recently reopened. And on the other segment, drivers will have to continue to endure the ruts, dips and bumps and won't see a new road there until late 2009.
Mayor Frank Hibbard could not conceal his irritation about having S Gulfview torn up again when the new beach centerpiece, Beach Walk, is open and attracting new visitors. He said the city staff should have gotten an earlier start on the project, especially the section closest to Beach Walk.
"That we're going to shut down that segment again is, I think, a shame," he said.
People who normally drive S Gulfview may think the shame is that the street was allowed to get in that condition in the first place.