A portion of Gulfport’s major east-west roadway is going to get a drainage makeover thanks to a large-scale $1.7 million improvement project funded by Pinellas County.
Beginning at about the end of August 2017, expect seven months of lane closures at night and on weekends along Gulfport Boulevard from 49th Street S. to 58th Street S., said the city’s Superintendent of Public Works Tom Nicholls.
“There might be some complete road closures for a minimal amount of time during the project when they have to put structures in the middle of the road,” he said. “We have talked to the county about having one lane open during construction, especially for emergency services.”
Gulfport Boulevard is also known as 22nd Ave. S. and County Road 138.
Currently, “the curb lanes get flooded pretty deep to the point they are not drivable” during heavy rain events, he said. “This project should alleviate a lot of that.”
The project is scheduled to take 210 days, with completion by the end of March 2018.
“The county’s storm sewer system is going to be replaced between 51st Street S. and 55th Street S. with larger pipes,” said Nicholls. “Additional wide-throat inlets will be added to get the water off the road quicker. The new ones will be at least twice the size of the current ones regarding width and height.”
The scope of the project also includes new sidewalks and “a complete repaving” of the road from where the county stopped at 58th Street S., he said.
The process of installing new utility poles behind the sidewalk area along Gulfport Boulevard and removing the old poles is nearly complete, he said. The city’s sewer and water lines also had to be moved. This part of the project began in July.
“We will coordinate the city’s utilities with the county,” he said.
After the project is complete, storm water from Gulfport Boulevard near the 58th Street S. basin will drain down hill to a pipe that goes out into Boca Ciega Bay near the city’s Recreation Center located on Shore Boulevard, said Nicholls. At the 49th Street S. end of the boulevard, storm water “will drain into the new retention pond system” located next to the municipal marina and then into the bay. The pond system known as the 49th Street Outfall Project was completed in June 2017.
The Gulfport Boulevard project is “going to be a nice improvement to the drainage in the area, but there will be some inconveniences because of the amount and scope of the construction,” said Nicholls. “We’ve already put the business owners along the boulevard in contact with the county so they are aware of what’s coming so they can try to maintain their access. Like with any construction project, we want to minimize any interruption to businesses. We will partner with the county to help the businesses with any concerns.”