About the time construction begins on the new City Centre parking garage in April at the corner of Third Avenue West and Old Main Street, the Florida Department of Transportation will begin intersection improvements at the other end of Third Avenue at Ninth Street West, as well as widening the walking trail across the Green Bridge.
It is the latest project of many getting underway that will keep downtown under construction until at least the end of 2018.
The $1.52 million intersection and walking trail project was put out to bid at the end of January. Construction is expected to start in April and, with a 200-day construction schedule, is expected to be completed by November. The scope of work includes adding a dedicated southbound right-hand turn lane at Third Avenue West, reducing the size of the medians, reducing the existing lanes to 10 feet wide and repaving much of Ninth Street West.
The project also includes widening the walking trail over the bridge to 10 feet.
Part of the construction woes that can be expected include the potential closure of Third Avenue West at some point during the project. According to Jim McLellan, public works director, the contract allows the contractor to close Third Avenue for as many as 30 days during the project, but can only do so for up to 21 days at a time, which could mean one long-term closure and additional intermittent closures.
Ward 1 Councilman Gene Gallo said the city was never informed of FDOT’s intention to shut down Third Avenue for any length of time.
“So they told us they were going to shut down Third Avenue for 21 days, but they didn’t ask if they could do it,” Gallo said. “What effect would it have on the project if the council said we don’t think you should stop that traffic flow?”
McLellan said FDOT is paying for the project and that’s the way it was bid out. “So it would change the costs of the contract and we would likely be asked to pick up those extra costs,” assuming FDOT would agree, he said.
The project not only coincides with the construction of the parking garage and the ongoing construction of the $17 million Spring Hill Suites hotel in the 100 block of Old Main, but also the recent groundbreaking for the South Florida Museum expansion. Work also continues on the downtown streetscape design and eastward expansion of Riverwalk, currently in the public input portion of the process.
The $4.5 million expansion and renovation of the Twin Dolphin Marina was delayed due to contractor mobilization issues, but is expected to begin construction any day. A $500,000 pedestrian safety project on Eighth Avenue West between Ninth and 14th streets west is designed and funded, but FDOT has not yet informed the city of a start date.