West Central Ave to Receive Upgrades

The city of St. Petersburg and its consulting subcontracting firm are holding a series of public meetings regarding the West Central Avenue Streetscape upgrade project. On Monday, October 29, consultant Margaret Kubilins, left, of VHB of Tampa, was the main presenter who outlined the scope of the planned project that is expected to take one year to complete. Evan Birk, right, a civil engineer in the city’s Engineering and Capital Improvements Department assists with the presentation. Birk serves as the project manager of the streetscape upgrades.

If you want a say in the options that are being considered for upgrades to the West Central Avenue District in St. Petersburg, then the 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, December 4 public input meeting is for you at the freeFall Theater, 6099 Central Ave.

The many components of the project that will extend from 58th Street west to Park Street have three categorical themes: streetscape design, water main replacement and branding, according to planning documentation.

In the design category, choices can affect street lighting, medians and their plantings, the number of lanes along with their widths for multimodal access like bicycles, and motor vehicle operating speeds.

“Traffic signal timing is an art form,” said consultant Margaret Kubilins, of VHB of Tampa, who made a presentation at a Monday, October 29 public meeting about the project. “Median landscaping really makes a difference” in traffic speeds. The goal is “instead of a speedway, make traffic flow more of a line dance.”

Specifically, curbs and curb ramps along with sidewalks and driveways will be reconstructed to be safer and compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), she said. Span wires and new mast arm traffic signal poles will be installed at three major intersections. Crosswalks will be enhanced at four intersections.

Concurrent with the district upgrades, the city of St. Petersburg will also be replacing the local water main lines, which are past their 50-year lifespan, with a new eight-inch waterline along the northern edge of the roadway, said Kubilins.

This means “80 to 90 percent of the blue water mains will be relocated underground. They’re an eye sore,” said Evan Birk, a civil engineer in the city’s Engineering and Capital Improvements Department who is also serving as the project manager of the streetscape upgrades.

Branding choices are mostly for future projects and can include esthetics like paint colors, pole banner graphics or a mural on the Pinellas Trail’s pedestrian bridge over South Pasadena Avenue just below Central Avenue, said Kubilins.

According to the city’s website, the construction will begin in late 2019 and will take about one year to complete. 

To participate in the project’s second online public survey, which opens Tuesday, December 4 and closes Friday, December 14, visit a link that will be provided on the website: stpete.org/public_works/west_central_ave_streetscape.php.

The changes are all part of a municipal master revitalization plan approved in 2012 with the goal of creating a “unified vision for Central Avenue that allows the individual districts to develop and maintain their unique identities.” The Central Arts, Edge and Grand Central Districts have already been completed.

If you are interested in the scope of the entire 2012 redevelopment plan for Central Avenue, which is also known as Pinellas County Road 150, visit stpete.org/oldsite/economic_development_dept/redevelopment_initiatives/docs/Central_Avenue_Revitalization_Plan___Final.pdf

The Penny for Pinellas sales tax initiative and the city’s Water Resources Department provide funding for the upgrades.


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