Plant City to receive local highway and city upgrades
Several projects to install much-needed equipment along interstates 4, 75, and 275 will take place to ensure a safer commute on the highway. One is anticipated to begin this year, while the other is further down the road.
I-4 ITS Communication System from I-275 to Polk County line
This project will install ITS components in support of a vehicle infrastructure connection along I-4 between I-275 and the Polk County line. This is due to car crashes and recurring congestion on the highway.
Between 2016 and 2019, there were 70 fatal car crashes and 6,350 injuries related to car accidents, according to the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT).
Overall, I-4 averaged two-lane closures per day and one full directional closure every 11 days in 2018.
An ITS Communication System is made up of different technology to assist motorists in the event of an accident.
• Black out signs guide motorists through detours when diverted off of I-4
• Automated Traffic Signal Performance Measures provide traffic signal diversions as efficient as possible
• CCTV Camera’s allows the viewing of accidents from the Traffic Management Center
There will be limited lane closures on county or city roads. The $8.9 million project is anticipated to begin this summer and be completed during the Fall of 2024.
Interstate lighting upgrades along I-75 and I-4 in
The current HPS lighting fixtures along the highway will be replaced with LED fixtures. LED fixtures will offer higher resistance to light depreciation, increased fixture life, and better-quality light.
The project mileage will stretch almost 3 miles along I-75, and less than a mile along I-4.
Installation will occur on the through roads and ramps at these interchanges:
• I-75 at Gibsonton Drive
• I-75 at U.S. 301
• I-75 at Selmon Expressway
• I-4 at Park Road
The cost will be $13.5 million and is anticipated to begin in 2025.
As mentioned from the previous Plant City Observer edition, the government has allocated $19.9 million, through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), toward the City of Plant City.
The city has split the funds into two categories: Governmental Services and Infrastructure Improvements – both consisting of a list of different projects.
The former of the two, has $10 million put toward its projects – all for recreational purposes.
Tournament Management Facility Project
The facility is receiving $2.9 million in ARPA funds and the remaining $500,000 is from the Tourist Development Commission – with a total of approximately $3.4 million
“It creates a great enhancement to our ability to manage tournaments and serve the community that comes out to participate in these various athletic activities that occur in Ellis-Methvin Park,” said Plant City City Manager Bill McDaniel. “The project is currently at a state of 100% design. It is ready to build.”
There are plans for it to hold a concession stand, open patio, and restrooms on the first floor.
The second floor would have an open deck joined by a tournament management room.
The public will have a viewing area while sheltered under a 3,000 square-foot canopy. The facility will also be equipped with a 500 square-foot kitchen, snack bar, and restrooms that meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines and will be constructed with unique architectural blocks.
“The color is essentially baked into the block,” McDaniel said. “It’s low maintenance and it’s easy to maintain.”
The designing of the project will be $145,000 and $164,326 will go toward permits, equipment, etc.
Funds allocated in building the facility on a whole will reach over $3 million.
McDaniel stated that construction on the Ellis-Methvin Tournament Management Facility should be complete in a year.
Plant City Tennis
The tennis center will be located on the south end of Ellis-Methvin Park, on the site of the older building which will be demolished.
“This building will accommodate our growing use of the tennis center,” McDaniel said. “It provides for additional restrooms, it adds showers, (and) it provides an expanded lobby area.”
The second floor will have a 1,400 square-foot canopy to view the tennis courts.
An indoor alternative will be an air-conditioned room that will still provide an adequate view outdoors.
Like the tournament facility, the tennis center will have office space as well.
Determining the design of the structure is complete and $153,400 goes toward designing.
A contract with the developer puts $3.3 million toward construction and $146,330 will go toward permits, equipment and other expenses, totaling $3.6 million in ARPA funding.
The goal is to build both the tennis center and the tournament management facility simultaneously and have a double ribbon-cutting event on the same day.
There are plans to merge the Rowena Mays Park with the tennis courts and basketball facility on Dort Street.
In order to do so, a bridge will be constructed over the westside canal to connect both sites.
It will be similar to the existing bridge over the eastside canal.
There are also plans to make additions and renovations to both the park and the courts.
“We are proposing to rehabilitate the tennis and basketball courts and bring them up to modern standards,” McDaniel said.
This includes constructed restrooms with a design like the one at Brewer Park, building pickleball courts, and enhancing the parking lots.
Also, the park and courts will be renamed the Rowena Mays Athletic Park.
The budget for this project is $1.9 million – with $400,000 coming from city funds and $1.5 million from ARPA.
The splash park will be a smaller scale water park, included with a playground and sporting facilities.
Other amenities will be restrooms, rooms for changing clothes, a picnic pavilion, sunshade shelters, and an adequate parking lot.
City staff considered different locations to place the park, such as off Baker Street. That plan was scrapped due to the high traffic volume on that corridor.
The Sadye Gibbs Martin Community Center was also an option.
While there would be enough room for the recreational facility, there wouldn’t be enough for a parking lot. What’s more, the property varies from a high to low area.
The community center is on land that is more elevated than other sections, which would bring construction issues.
Land at a lower level would have to be raised to the same height as the land that the community center is situated on. However, this could result in stormwater issues and a “pretty significant drainage system” would have to be installed, which would be more work and money spent, than it’s worth, McDaniel said.
Then they focused their attention on the former YMCA property – city property on Young Street.
After careful analysis, the 5 acres of land was deemed suitable for building the park.
“It gives us the opportunity to fit all of the necessary amenities for the splash park, the playground, all of the sporting facilities, (and) all of the necessary parking,” McDaniel said. “We have enough room to add other amenities. We’ve seen everything from…ping pong tables, chess tables, (and) any number of park amenities that could be added on to this piece of property.”
There are also plans to open a skate park with ramps and rails near the recreational facility.
Two million dollars in ARPA funds are going to this project.
City Commissioner Nate Kilton expressed concern about the timeline, as ARPA funds must be used within four years as a requirement.
“Everybody in the business of architecture and design and engineering and construction, already have very bloated backlogs…so we’re competing against everybody else, and we only have a four-year window to get it done,” Kilton said.
He also brought up the economic issue of inflation that could be impactful on whether the project may be able to push forward within the four years.
However, he did mention that there’s a healthy balance in investing into both infrastructure and parks and recreation projects, and ultimately approved the proposal.
City Commissioner Bill Dodson also praised the plan.
“I’m thankful we’re now able to utilize city funds for other purposes other than what this ARPA fund will allow us to do, and give us more bang for the buck without charging our citizens, but giving a benefit for our citizens for their use,” he said.