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New Sewage Project to Impact Westchase Entrance Beginning in May

Take a deep breath, Westchase. Another reclaimed water project is slated to impact the Sheldon Road community entrance starting in May.

It’s all part of a $210 million capital improvement project that will shut down two aged sewage plants and reroute their flow to an expanded facility behind Ed Radice Park.

The River Oaks plant at the intersection of Waters Avenue and Sheldon Road is notorious for its stink, prompting passing motorists to hold their breath until they’re well past the facility. It’s now 55-years-old and well past its useful life, according to county staff.

Under the $210 million capital improvement project, that sewage treatment plant will be shut down. The new project entails re-piping wastewater to another existing plant off South Mobley Road. Tucked at the very back of the access road to Ed Radice Park is the Northwest Wastewater Reclamation facility, which sits south of the park, surrounded by county mitigation lands between Deer Park Elementary and the southern tip of Highland Park.

Under the plan, projected to save $86 million for county taxpayers over the next 20 years, the Northwest plant is being expanded to handle the additional wastewater as well as new sewage produced by future Northwest developments. A portion of the project – the demolition of a treatment plant on Dale Mabry Highway and the rerouting of its wastewater to the plant – is complete. That portion cost an additional $35 million and resulted in work along the Citrus Park Drive median in front of Westfield’s Citrus Park Mall in 2016.

To reroute the sewage from the south, four miles of new 30- and 36-inch wastewater pipelines will be constructed between the River Oaks Plant on Waters up to the Northwest Plant. The chosen route starts at River Oaks and takes the new pipeline up Channel A and the Upper Tampa Bay Trail. The large pipes will be installed through open trenches but when the pipe intersects major thoroughfares like Linebaugh Avenue, trenchless tunnels will be bored beneath the road to minimize impacts. The county will build a new pumping station behind the county’s West Services Unit and health clinic on the east side of Sheldon Road (located just south of Linebaugh Avenue and the CSX railroad tracks). The new station, where no sewage will be treated, will have sound and odor control devices to minimize noise and odor.

Leaving the pump station, the new pipeline will then head west along Linebaugh Avenue in the median along the Costco property, cross under Linebaugh at the former Sweetbay property and shoot due north in the median of Sheldon Road. The pipeline will then cross Sheldon at the entrance to Fawn Ridge, where it will follow Fawn Ridge Boulevard before shooting due west in the utility easement along the southern border of Fawn Ridge. There it will connect with previously installed utilities.

The project, which began in January, is broken into segments ranging from 90 to 150 calendar days to complete, and will take months to finish.

Another portion of the project, the construction of a new reclaimed water line that will run from the Northwest plant down Sheldon Road to service Citrus Park, Westchase and Town ’N County, will more directly impact Westchase. That line will run down the Sheldon Road median in the area of the new sewage line and cross the road when entering Westchase at Linebaugh Avenue. The line will then proceed, through directional drilling rather than open trenches, down Westchase’s landscaped median between the Linebaugh lanes. It will tie into the existing reclaimed water main near Westchase Elementary School and TECO’s high voltage lines.

The project was briefly referenced in January WOW’s coverage of the Dec. 12 Voting Members meeting. That article included a quote from Project Manager Bill Harrington that may have given some readers the impression that work at the Linebaugh and Sheldon intersection, related to the installation of both sewer and reclaimed lines, would last about 35 days.

The installation of the reclaimed line will actually take 120 days but overall work at the Linebaugh/Sheldon intersection will occur over 155 days.

"The intersection work is scheduled to begin in May and end in September," said Kara Walker of Hillsborough County's Communications Department

Harrington appeared at the January Westchase Community Development District (CDD) meeting to detail the project’s impacts on the intersection and median. In order to both bore new sewer lines and a new reclaimed water line beneath the intersection, lanes in each direction will be altered in five stages of 30 days each. In all cases, the county will maintain two through lanes and a dedicated left turn lane. Right turns will still be permitted but, in some cases, a dedicated right turn lane would temporarily not exist. The inset “Sheldon & Linebaugh Intersection Staging” that runs with this article illustrates the five stages with the areas in red indicating closed areas and the arrows showing redirected traffic flows.

Speaking to WOW in mid-December, Project Manager Bill Harrington stated the most disruptive time period for outbound Westchase commuters will last 35 days when the left hand turn lane on Linebaugh Avenue for northbound Sheldon Road will be closed for the intersection work. To compensate, the eastbound lanes will be reconfigured to still permit left turns from eastbound Linebaugh to northbound Sheldon. The current left lane for through traffic along eastbound Linebaugh will be converted into a left turn lane. Meanwhile the current dedicated right-turn lane for eastbound Linebaugh to southbound Sheldon will be converted into an additional through lane. Residents will still be able to make left and right turns. Traffic, however, will likely see disruption because the far right lane will be shared by through traffic and drivers turning right onto southbound Sheldon Road.

Harrington also assured the Westchase CDD, which maintain Westchase medians, that while pipe installation along Sheldon Road north of Westchase would be done by open trenches (the cause of the January removal of oaks in the Sheldon median outside of Fawn Ridge), the installation of a new reclaimed water line down Westchase’s median from Sheldon Road to the entrance of Westchase Elementary would be accomplished by underground directional boring, approximately 20 feet beneath existing landscaping. “There will not be open excavation,” he told supervisors. “It will be under the median.”

Harrington added, “Where we cause damage, of course, we have to restore it.”

CDD Chair Jim Mills stated to WOW, “CDD staff has already been pro-active with county personnel to fully understand what this project will mean to Westchase. As has been done with the Linebaugh Avenue project, your CDD staff, supervisors, and, if necessary, legal counsel, will closely monitor this project as well.”

Mills added, “While these projects do cause temporary inconveniences, infrastructure improvements do contribute to improved services provided to all of us by Hillsborough County.”

The Northwest Reclamation Facility is currently undergoing a significant expansion to handle the wastewater treatment for the western part of Hillsborough County. That expansion will serve the county for decades. Buffered by county owned land, the plant is incorporating noise and odor controls in order to minimize its impact on Deer Park Elementary, the Mandolin neighborhoods and Highland Park. In an effort to better control odor, the county will not treat bio-solids at the facility but move its bio-solid processing equipment to another site. Treatment tanks at the Northwest facility will also be covered and odor scrubbers installed to insure any released air is free of foul odor.

Once the lines are installed and the current expansion of the Northwest Wastewater Reclamation Facility is completed in December 2019, the River Oaks plant at Waters and Sheldon will largely be torn down. Some storage facilities may remain to help during heavy rains to help protect Tampa Bay. Public meetings will then occur to explore possible uses of that available land.

The entire project, which began in January, is expected to run into 2019. Demolition of the River Oaks plant will likely occur in late 2020 or early 2021.

By Chris Barrett, Publisher

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