This past week, I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Ben Faust, the Vice President of DRMP, the consultant firm that is handling all aspects of the Front Beach Road CRA or Community Redevelopment Area. The goal of the CRA is to upgrade the infrastructure and beautify our area using monies leveraged from the increased development over the last several years.
Currently there are two projects underway with several more on the board to begin soon. The first to be started was the Churchwell Drive project. The project began in April and is expected to be completed in the summer of 2008, although I was told that they are ahead of schedule. This particular project was started first, not because of priority, but because the state had funds for the bridge replacement now. Rather than wait and risk those funds being reallocated elsewhere, the city agreed to begin the project first. Project details:
- Widen existing roadway
- Relocate the overhead utilities underground
- Build a parking area for the nearby beach access point – 127 spaces
- Build sidewalks and bike lanes
- Replace old bridge (paid for by FDOT)
The Beckrich Road project began at the beginning of September with an estimated completion time of 22 months, set to end summer of 2009. Project details:
- All overhead utilities relocated underground
- Roadway widened to four lanes
- Construction of bike lanes and sidewalks
- Center landscaped median
- Landscaping on either side of the roadway
Those of you that are familiar with Beckrich know that this will be a huge improvement over the existing two lane traffic ridden roadway.
One of the cool things about the CRA, is that every project involves the relocating of all overhead utilities underground. Many don’t realize this, but this comes at an extraordinary cost and logistical preparation. Involved is not just moving, but rebuilding and then switching so as not to interrupt service. Coming from Plano, TX, I was not used to seeing power lines everywhere, but here, they are a constant interruption of the beautiful views to be had all along our beaches. Underground utilities will add big time value to our area and make the Front Beach Road experience all the more enjoyable.
All along Front Beach Road, many of the roadways will have landscaped center medians, dedicated bike lanes, sidewalks, street lighting and a dedicated tram lane on both sides.
The next project on the drawing board will be the north Thomas Drive area. The north Thomas Drive area is defined as the area from the intersection of Front Beach Road, Middle Beach Road, and Thomas Drive (where the Ripley’s Believe it or Not ship is) to the intersection of Thomas Drive and Joan Avenue (where Wendy’s is). Currently this is two lanes and is considered a “restricted roadway” and will be four-laned as part of the CRA.
Next will come the Front Beach Road area from Walmart to Beckrich Road, and then the south Thomas Drive area. The south Thomas Drive area consists of the roadway from the Circle K (in between The Shores of Panama and Laketown Wharf) past Boardwalk to the stop-sign just before Club LaVela.
Currently there is a proposed tram station to go in on the north Thomas Drive roadway, across from Ripley’s. The land has been aquired, but funding will not be coming from the north Thomas Drive CRA allotment, nor has the station been approved with finalized plans. There are currently conceptual ideas on the drawing board with more definitive information to come out in the next 6 to 8 weeks.
There is actually quite a bit of information at PCBOnTheMove.com.
Also, below is a link to the PowerPoint presentation given at the Beach Chamber Event a couple of months ago, including project specific details with imagery and financial facts. Also, there is a link to the Project Design Manual that includes specifics on the street-scape design with pictures of materials to be used and street design concepts.