After many years of planning and agreements, along with the generosity of local music impresario, Bill Edwards, a seventy-five foot high “welcoming’ structure will be built along I-175 to greet visitors to St. Petersburg.
Construction on the structure is set to begin Tuesday in order to be completed in time for the Republican National Convention.
The city has had plans for this and another similar structure that would have been placed near the Sunshine Skyway Bridge since 2004. Unfortunately, budgetary issues kept the project from moving forward.
The design of the structure is an updated — and larger – design of the existing entry features located near I-275 and I-375.
This has been a long-term project, for certain. The impetus for this project actually began under then-Mayor Rick Baker. For several years, Baker and city staff had discussions with federal and state officials, including meetings with Secretary of Transportation Norm Mineta, the Director of Federal Highway and local Florida Department of Transportation officials, eventually resulting in DOT approval of the project in 2008.
Most important, this ten-year project never lost its leadership. Kevin Dunn lead the project initially under Mayor Baker and is currently leading it for Bill Edwards, bringing it to full completion. This is a significant branding effort for the City of St. Petersburg and a testament that important projects often require time, great effort, strategy, and a team effort.