City approves right-of-way funding for Lasalle Street pump station

The San Marco community is one step closer to seeing progress on the long-awaited pump station on Lasalle Street.

In February, the Jacksonville City Council unanimously approved the appropriation of $900,000 for the right-of-way acquisition of a residential property at 936 Lasalle Street in order to begin construction of the Lasalle Street pump station, a project that has been in discussion and in the works for several years now.

The property in question, sitting on 0.12 acres, is a duplex the City appraised at $480,000, as explained in the amended bill summary.

At the February 28 City Council meeting, Council Member At-Large Matt Carlucci countered concerns regarding the property’s sticker price by arguing this acquisition will, by merit of the pump station replacing it, save money for the City of Jacksonville in the long run.

“When this area overflows and floods from water, then what you have is potholes, you have cracked asphalt, you have sidewalks that have to be replaced,” he said. This is millions of dollars of infrastructure work that needs to be done. So by putting this pump station in place, it will save literally millions of dollars of infrastructure work.”

“I don’t want the price tag to overlook the importance of what this will do, the remedy it will provide and the money it will save in infrastructure repair,” he added in closing.

“It’s great to be able to finally see this project come to fruition,” said District 5 City Council Member LeAnna Cumber later in a telephone interview. “It’s really going to make an enormous difference in the flooding in the San Marco area during big storms and even some smaller ones.”

Compared to the existing pipes, which rely solely on gravity to redirect flood water out to the St. Johns River, the pump station will actively pump water back to the river. There are currently two other pump stations in the San Marco neighborhood.

Cumber explained this new pump station will provide drainage for Lasalle Street and “the whole area of San Marco Boulevard,” which suffered extensive flooding from Hurricane Irma in 2017.

“Irma obviously was an incredibly unique and tragic storm, but then on the commercial side the area that was hit the most was that stretch of San Marco Boulevard and a lot of those businesses have had a hard time coming back and that stretch has kind of struggled in the last few years,” Cumber said. “It will certainly help and the businesses can know that the station’s there to be able to pump out the water again in the Irma-type flooding when you have the river crest over but also in the storms we get here in Florida where you just have this massive amount of rain dumped in a very short period of time.”

In the coming months, residents can expect to see workers begin to prepare the pump station site, which will include demolition of the duplex.

Cumber said she expects the site to be ready for construction by June. The project as a whole is looking at an end date in 2025, from the construction of the pump station and its facilities to upgrading the piping and the outfall pipe.

“This is a relatively complicated project because we’re part of the old city and we have a lot of the old pipes. You kind of peel the top layer of San Marco off and there’s a lot going on underneath…” she said. “Once you kind of peel that back, you have to make sure you’re connecting all the right pieces and what we do there doesn’t have an unintended consequence down the road.”

Permitting for the project can begin once the sale of the duplex has closed and the City holds the title. While the demolition contractor is yet to be determined, the design build firm selected for the pump station is Haskell.

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