CLEARWATER - The funding of Phases II-IV of Beach Walk construction got a bit richer last week as the Clearwater City Council accepted a federal grant of $3,822,000 administered by the State of Florida Department of Transportation Local Agency Program (LAP).
The grant came as a result of the City conducting a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) Compliance Study to evaluate environmental impacts of the Beach Walk project. That $150,000 federally funded study has completed; it found that Beach Walk had no adverse environmental impacts.
It was the NEPA study and the opportunity to secure the $3.8-million grant that caused the City to break the Beach Walk construction into phases. Had the entire contract been awarded before the NEPA study was complete, the project would have been ineligible for the $3.8-million grant.
The estimated cost of the entire Beach Walk project is $30,412,195, with $10,320,043 of that committed to Phase I of construction, the reconstruction of Coronado Drive that has already begun.
While the City has already identified the funding sources for construction Phases II-IV, the $3.8-million LAP grant will either allow the return of funds "borrowed" from Stormwater and Water/Sewer accounts, or cover unexpected cost increases.
According to Joelle Castelli, Clearwater's Assistant Director of Public Communications, City staff are now writing a single RFP for the remaining phases of Beach Walk construction, which will turn Gulfview Blvd into an attractive curvilinear roadway complete with a beachfront pedestrian/bicyclist promenade. That RFP had been scheduled for release this summer, with construction projected to begin in January 2007.
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