TAMPA, Fla. — A storm-hardening project for Tampa General Hospital started Thursday is expected to impact traffic on and off Davis Islands.
TECO, People's Gas and Tampa General Hospital started the project years ago. Crews will move gas and electric utilities from the Plant Avenue bridge and install them under the channel.
"This will reduce the chance that a power outage or gas outage could affect the hospital during times of severe weather," said TECO spokesperson Cherie Jacobs.
Jacobs said drivers entering the island will see two lanes reduced to one lane. Drivers getting off the island will see two lanes, though shifted to use parking spaces. Workers will be using the center two lanes of Davis Boulevard.
The work involving the most traffic on Davis Boulevard is expected to wrap in October, though the work area will be set up again for one week in December.
"Having just one lane going south is a concern," said resident Don Green. He's lived on the island for more than 30 years.
Other residents questioned the timing of the project during rainy season. The bridge is the main way on and off Davis Islands.
"That's definitely going to be hard, especially with even the downpour this morning, that was even hard getting off the island," said resident Mileah Duntley.
Should there be a hurricane, Jacobs said two lanes would remain going off the island to ensure safe evacuation and that crews would secure the equipment and work site.
"Safety is our number one priority," Jacobs said.
Jacobs said similar critical infrastructure projects have also been completed over the past decade at the Port of Tampa and the airport.
More information about this project can be found here.