Feds fund Tampa Riverwalk completion

06/19/12 Janelle Irwin
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The City of Tampa has won almost $11 million in federal funding to finish building Riverwalk. Mayor Bob Buckhorn announced the award at the Tampa Bay Partnership’s annual luncheon today at the Tampa Convention Center.

“We are going to finish that Riverwalk….”

The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant program will fund construction of an over-water walkway from MacDill Park under the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. Buckhorn has championed completion of the pedestrian and bike path that runs along side the Hillsborough River through downtown and into outlaying areas.

“When I leave office – if I’m lucky enough to get a second term – I want that river to be the center of our downtown, not the western edge. We have the opportunity to move to the west bank. We have the opportunity to create an urban environment that stretches from Howard and Armenia to 22nd Street in Ybor City. We have an opportunity to connect the dots, to connect Ybor to Channelside, Channelside to Encore, Encore to Tampa Heights, Tampa Heights to downtown, the University of Tampa to the West Bank.”

It will also cover a greenway beneath the Selmon Expressway. About an hour after getting phone calls from member of Congress Cathy Castor and Senator Bill Nelson, Buckhorn shared the news with more than two hundred elected officials, government employees and business professionals. The grant, he said, will finish the job.

“This is the final piece ladies and gentlemen. This is it. When we finish that Riverwalk, you will be able to get from the Straz Center all the way around to Channelside without getting in your car. This is a big deal. This is what we’ve been waiting for. This is the beginning of that next chapter.”

The TIGER Discretionary Grant is awarded to areas that have planned projects aimed at economic recovery. Buckhorn has been lobbying Washington for the grant for months saying it is one of the area’s biggest opportunities for economic development. The city and the expressway authority will contribute $4 million dollars to the project. Buckhorn didn’t say in his announcement when construction would begin and end on the final portions of Riverwalk.

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