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Rebuilding Tampa's Foundation

TAMPA, Fla. (April 30, 2024) --  One hundred and seventy-five years after Tampa's incorporation, the city is undergoing the biggest infrastructure overhaul in its history. From massive stormwater improvement projects, hundreds of miles of new or repaired water and wastewater pipes, another hundred miles of repaved roads, improved safety conditions at high-accident locations, million-dollar facility upgrades, and much, much more. Over recent years, the City of Tampa has been focused on rebuilding the foundation that lays the groundwork for economic growth and prosperity.

PIPES -- Progressive Infrastructure Planning to Ensure Sustainability

The unseen force that powers our daily lives, infrastructure, has been at the forefront of the current administration and forward-thinking Tampa City Council. In 2019, a nearly $3 billion PIPES Program was approved to make critical repairs and upgrades to Tampa's aging water and wastewater systems. After nearly 10 years without a utility rate increase, PIPES established a schedule of gradual rate increases for water and wastewater services over a 20-year period, providing the funding the city desperately needed to reinvest in its deteriorating infrastructure.

"When historians write about this era of Tampa history, they will tell our grandchildren this was a period when city leaders fully understood infrastructure is the lifeblood of any city," said Mayor Jane Castor. "This administration and far-sighted City Council understand a city, especially a waterfront city, cannot continue to thrive with decaying 100-year-old water and wastewater lines or chronically flooding neighborhoods. We are proud to say we are making monumental progress, rebuilding Tampa's foundation."

Water, Wastewater, and Stormwater

Over the past five years, more than $800 million has been invested in projects designed to upgrade Tampa's water and wastewater systems. Another $250 million has gone toward stormwater projects, improving drainage and reducing dangerous street flooding. Between the three departments, approximately 300 miles of pipes have been repaired or replaced.

New facilities have been added, technologies have been upgraded to improve operations and efficiency, and new pump stations have come online. This month, the Tampa Water Department partially activated its new High Service Pump Station at the David L. Tippin Water Treatment Plant. The $94 million project replaces aging pumps scattered across the facility, some of which are almost 100 years old. A large portion of Tampa's drinking water will travel through the High Service Pump Station and to the faucets of thousands of homes and businesses.

Tampa also boasts the third longest wastewater microtunnel in America. Running 60 feet below the Bay, the new pipe replaces one originally placed into service in 1951. Carrying approximately 30% of Tampa's wastewater from a pumping station near the Tampa Riverwalk to the Wastewater Treatment Facility at Port Tampa Bay.

Later this year, construction is expected to conclude for the first of a series of flood relief projects in Tampa's Lower Peninsula. Designed to improve drainage in the region, the first phase also includes the creation of a beautiful new park, currently referred to as "MacDill 48," which will provide not just recreation, but also stormwater benefits. 

Mobility

Despite limited funding, Tampa's roads have also seen vast improvements. Since 2019, more than 140 miles of streets have been repaved, more than 11,000 potholes have been removed, and to increase productivity, the paving team has doubled in size. As part of the city's Vision Zero commitment, three major Quick Build projects have been completed, in addition to several small ones. Transit-oriented development is encouraged and when opportunities arise, the city leverages its resources to improve connectivity, walkability, and safety for all modes of travel. For example, as part of the city’s commitment of $12 million to help fund construction costs of a new 100% affordable housing community off I-275, along Hillsborough Avenue, the city required the developer to make roadway improvements along 22nd Avenue. The safety improvements benefit not only future residents, but also those who travel through the area regularly.

Solid Waste

A $100 million retrofit of the McKay Bay Waste-to-Energy Plant is underway to ensure compliance with industry standards and enhance the facility's waste-to-energy capabilities. Instead of dumping garbage into landfills, Tampa's waste is turned into energy, powering  approximately 15,000 homes monthly. Established in the 80's, the plant is long overdue for an overhaul in order to ensure it can continue to operate and service its ever-increasing customers. More than four hundred construction workers are working around the clock to complete the project.

Other Infrastructure

The new City Center at Hanna Avenue opened its doors in 2023, serving as a centralized location for multiple city departments. Prior to this facility, government services were scattered across the city. Now, members of the public who need to meet with Construction Services, Housing and Community Development, or other departments can head to one place. Designed with quality customer service in mind, the state-of-the-art building also includes a community gathering spot and workforce development center. 

This month, the City of Tampa broke ground on the much-anticipated recreational complex at Fair Oaks Park. The $34 million project is one of the largest projects undertaken by the Tampa Parks and Recreation Department. Covering approximately 10 acres, the new complex will include a 33,055-square-foot center, with space dedicated to youth, seniors, and athletics, including the highly-coveted gymnastics and dance programming. Additionally, it will offer indoor and outdoor basketball courts, pickleball courts, a multipurpose sports field, and walking trails. The complex will be completed in phases, with total completion expected for Spring 2026.

Extending the West Riverwalk is also in the works to fill the gaps in what will become a 12 mile pathway, bringing more connectivity and accessibility to West Tampa communities. With an estimated $56 million total price-tag, the project would not be possible without the Federal Highway Administration's $24 million BUILD grant. 

"I have had the privilege of working for the City of Tampa for more than two decades and under multiple outstanding mayors," said Jean Duncan, Administrator of Infrastructure and Mobility. "But I can sincerely say I have never worked for a mayor who focused on improving Tampa's quality of life on so many fronts at the same time."

With much more on the list, the City of Tampa encourages residents and other stakeholders to follow its social media accounts, @cityoftampa, to follow along as exciting new projects and initiatives come online.