Vital utility lines buried to protect Tampa General during disaster

Tampa General Hospital is a lifeline for the region, caring for patients with any type of injury 24-hours a day. Crews began work on a major project last week to shore-up utility lines vital for the campus to operate.

The focus of the work is to protect Tampa General Hospital from the impacts of severe weather on things like power and water supplies.

TGH is the only level-one trauma center in the region, and having it up and running is critical.

“The electric and natural gas lines that are currently on the bridge to Davis Islands, we're moving them under the channel,” TECO spokesperson Cherie Jacobs explained. “This is a big project, we're directionally drilling underneath the channel to install these lines."

Relocating the utility lifelines of the facility will be another step towards making TGH as safe as it can be for patients and the people who work there. The hospital has invested millions making the campus major storm ready.

But with a big project in the heart of downtown, major traffic delays are sure to follow.

Mark Misner works and lives on Davis Island. He showed FOX 13's Catherine Hawley how the path he typically takes has been closed off and traffic is reduced to one lane.

"I understand that, but the temporary fix isn’t the best right now," Misner said.

On top of lane changes, street parking on a section of Davis Boulevard has been eliminated and turns have been restricted, so navigating the area may be confusing for some drivers.

"I had to make a complete U-turn at Tampa General to come back around, wait at the stop sign,” Deeviesha Wilkerson said. “That was just a little ridiculous for me, I wasn’t expecting that at all."

TECO says the entire project will take about a year to complete. The route to the hospital should not be impacted.

"Traffic to the hospital has to be free and clear for emergency vehicles for other patients who are going to the hospital,” said Jacobs. “The path to the hospital remains clear today and will throughout the project."​​​​​​​

The construction will be completed in three phases. Thankfully, TECO says the most disruptive work should be finished by Halloween.