The long-awaited repaving of the east side of Tampa Palms Blvd. (in red on map) is well under way and the City of Tampa expects to complete the repaving project by August or September of this year.

The safety of our children and families is a high priority, not only for the residents of New Tampa, but also for our District 7 Tampa City Council member Luis Viera, who always is looking for ways to make the City of Tampa — and especially, the community where he lives — safer.

To that end, Viera helped the city secure a grant to pay for not only the repaving of the circular portion of Tampa Palms Blvd. that winds its way through Tampa Palms Areas 1 & 3 (on the east side of Bruce B. Downs, or BBD, Blvd.), but also is already providing for the installation of eight traffic-slowing speed tables on Tampa Palms Blvd. from the southern intersection of BBD (near Florida Executive Realty (bottom left gold logo on map above) all the way around the 2.91-mile stretch to Tampa Palms Blvd.’s northern intersection with BBD, near Lowe’s Home Improvement (see map above). 

Above is an example of an RRFB (Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon) like the ones on back-order for the Tampa Palms Blvd. repaving project. At right is one of the eight speed tables being installed to slow traffic on the roadway.

The construction of the $4.9-million project already has begun and, when it is fully completed — which Viera and Lara Bouck, the city’s chief production engineer for mobility, believe should be by August or September of this year — the project also will add two sets of three (six total) Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacons (or RRFBs), which will provide rapidly flashing beacons at marked crosswalks. They believe the RRFBs definitely will enhance pedestrian and bicycle safety at those intersections. There also will be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant ramps installed as part of the project and Bouck says the crews from the project’s contractor — CW Roberts Contracting — currently are installing the speed tables and signs and revising the permanent pavement markings.

Unfortunately, Bouck says, there currently is a 12-20-week wait on the RRFBs. “The latest we heard is that the (RRFB) bases will be shipped to the contractor by the end of July.” However, Bouck says that the bulk of the remaining construction of the project should be completed by May of this year. 

“We got the funds for Tampa Palms Blvd. from a combination of ARPA (American Rescue Plan Act) and Local Option Gas Tax funds,” says Viera. “I have to thank U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor (who represents Florida’s 14th Congressional district) for helping us secure the ARPA funds.”

And, although there was some discussion about narrowing the travel lanes to provide for additional traffic calming through this area, Bouck says, “Travel lanes were not narrowed as a part of this project.”

Is New Tampa Blvd. Next?

Viera says that he is equally concerned about implementing speed-calming improvements on New Tampa Blvd., the main thoroughfare through the West Meadows community.

“New Tampa Blvd. is number one on my priority list for New Tampa for repaving, as I believe it’s long overdue,” Viera says. “So, it’s on the list as next and we have begun seeking some design funding for it, but nothing is concrete yet. However, while we have had (I believe) design forwarded for this for funding, most construction projects for mobility have been put on hold, if they were connected to the penny sales tax and that includes this one.”

Bouck confirms that the New Tampa Blvd. project is not currently funded in the city’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP), but Viera says, “We continue to pursue funding (grants, etc.) to address the resurfacing backlog throughout the city.”

Of course, voters across Hillsborough County passed a 1-cent sales tax referendum (with 57% of the voters voting for it) to fund its capital improvements in 2018, only to have the referendum shot down in court due to ballot language issues. A similar referendum on the Nov. 2022 ballot was not passed by the voters, but millions in 2018 sales tax funds were already being collected. It is now up to the state to decide how those funds should be distributed. Once that issue is resolved, however, Viera is hopeful that the city will receive enough of the money to fund the improvements for New Tampa Blvd. We’ll keep you posted.

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