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Tampa readies launch for ‘cornerstone’ infrastructure projects

Mayor Jane Castor says East Tampa and MacFarlane Park in West Tampa will be the first of four projects designed to replace below-ground pipes and repave streets.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor provided an update Monday on the city's $2.9 billion PIPES program at Cyrus Greene Center in East Tampa.
Tampa Mayor Jane Castor provided an update Monday on the city's $2.9 billion PIPES program at Cyrus Greene Center in East Tampa. [ Charlie Frago ]
Published Apr. 11|Updated Apr. 11

TAMPA — Mayor Jane Castor provided a progress report Monday on a nearly $2.9 billion infrastructure effort that will unfold over the next two decades and is designed to replace aging water and sewage pipes and modernize streets.

The PIPES project, approved by the City Council in 2019, includes more than 70 individual projects, but the mayor focused on four areas in different corners of the city that will receive comprehensive, coordinated work beginning this summer: East Tampa, MacFarlane Park in West Tampa, Forest Hills in North Tampa and Virginia Park in South Tampa.

Together, the infrastructure overhaul for those four neighborhoods will cost $200 million and take three years, said Brad Baird, the city’s deputy administrator for infrastructure.

Those areas were selected because they are where aging pipes and streets need the most urgent care, he said during a new conference at Cyrus Greene Center in East Tampa.

The city has dubbed the work in the four neighborhoods to be the “Foundation for Tampa’s Neighborhoods,” with work beginning this summer in East Tampa and MacFarlane Park that includes relining wastewater pipes and repairing and replacing manholes.

Later, all four neighborhoods will have their water pipes replaced, which should increase water pressure and improve fire protection.

Finally, road work also is planned.

Tampa has been plagued with water leaks in recent years. Castor said the city wants to get ahead of the problem.

“We’re trying to be preventive in our approach of fixing a lot of those areas,” the mayor said, adding that increased water pressure will help reduce fire risk.

And repaved streets with improved stormwater drainage will also help get first responders to an emergency more quickly, she said.

“And these planned-ahead programs take much less time than they do when there’s an emergency,” Castor said.

Residents in the four neighborhoods will experience inconveniences. Some streets and traffic lanes will be temporarily closed. And driveways may be blocked as work progresses on a street. Baird said the city would provide golf cars to residents who are unable to walk to their houses from parking on the street.

But those headaches will pass, he said.

“Please be patient. It’ll be worth it in the end,” Baird said.

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