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Plan for 40th St. exceeds budget

The city is working to find the money after a bid on a part of the project comes in $4-million higher than expected.

By KEVIN GRAHAM
Published June 23, 2006


TAMPA - The only contractor to submit a bid to build the key segment of the N 40th Street widening project quoted a price this week that is $4-million more than the city expected.

Steve Daignault, public works administrator, said the city's transportation and finance departments are working to find the money to award the more than $21-million bid to Cone & Graham Inc.

"We're really lucky in one respect to have a bid, because we only have one bidder," Daignault said Thursday. "It's a good, awardable bid."

He said he's not sure yet where the money will come from for the higher-than-budgeted bid.

The next segment for construction along 40th Street is a nearly 1-mile stretch from E Hanlon Street south to E Diana Street, including the bridge that crosses the Hillsborough River.

"This is the key section of the remaining pieces," Daignault said.

Besides the challenge of constructing a bridge, Daignault said that the drainage system for the road will be contained in this portion of 40th Street. The city has already bought the parcels along the right of way in this segment and crews have started cutting down trees to make way for construction.

"When we see the bulldozers out there working on the bridge, we'll believe that construction is going on on 40th Street," said Terry Neal, president of the Temple Crest Civic Association and a member of the 40th Street task force.

Residents of Temple Crest and River Grove, neighborhoods along the Hillsborough River, have campaigned for more than 50 years to have the city widen and enhance 40th Street, which becomes a curvy, two-lane road north of Hillsborough Avenue.

Neal said he doesn't count the segment of construction north of Busch Boulevard to Fowler Avenue as part of the 40th Street enhancement project, even though the city does. Once 40th Street crosses Busch, it becomes McKinley Drive.

"If they're committed to getting this done, that's great," Neal said. "We're cautiously optimistic."

Daignault said that the city is already three months behind in the project. Originally, construction on the latest segment of 40th Street was set to begin in February and wrap up in December 2007. Although original projections had the final segment of the project finishing in October 2009, Daignault said he didn't want to speculate on an actual completion date.

"There's always going to be challenges," Daignault said. "We're real thrilled to be at this point."

Drivers use 40th Street as a main corridor between downtown and North Tampa, on the east side of the city. The entire project is a 4.2-mile stretch from Fowler Avenue south to Hillsborough Avenue.

Kevin Graham can be reached at 813 226-3433 or kgraham@sptimes.com.

[Last modified June 23, 2006, 00:49:20]


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