Construction will begin on Kennedy Bridge over-water segment of Tampa Riverwalk
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06/04/13 Roberto Roldan
WMNF Drive-Time News Tuesday | Listen to this entire show:

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When it’s finished the Tampa Riverwalk will extend 2.6 miles miles from The Tampa Bay History Center to Water Works Park, but there are still some segments that have not been constructed.

A ceremony Tuesday morning in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park was the first step in completing an important link, a span covering 1460 feet of the Hillsborough River including underneath the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge.

Tampa’s current Mayor joined the city’s last five mayors to unveil a map of the proposed features of the Riverwalk. Robert McDonaugh, administrator of economic opportunity for the city, said the Riverwalk project is the result of the work of all the mayors.

“During the public announcement today, Mayor Poe talked about the fact that it had come about during the bicentennial, which would be 1976. So, you’re talking about almost 40 years.”

In June of 2012, Mayor Bob Buckhorn secured a grant to help fund the project. After the in-kind replacements the city will have to perform, McDonaugh said the total cost of the project will be around $14 million dollars. Most of the price tag will be covered by a Federal Transportation grant which will provide roughly 70% of the necessary funding. McDonaugh said without this grant, the project would probably still be stalled.

“Things would not be moving as quickly as they are had this mayor not been successful in getting a TIGER grant from the federal government, which is allowing us to do a large portion of it. So, the federal government has made some money available that was not available in the past.”

Most of the existing Riverwalk is along the eastern bank of the Hillsborough River. This new segment however, will extend away from the shore over the river. It’s expected to open to the public in November of 2014.

“It’s going to provide another recreation facility. People can run, they can bike, enjoy the water front. Again, this is triggering some economic development along that Riverwalk. One of the things that the folks who are getting ready to develop the Aloft Hotel will say is the Riverwalk was an attractive amenity. The folks who are talking about building the residential project by the Straz will also point to the Riverwalk as another amenity they feel is important. So, what it will do is tie a lot of the different attractions that we have in this city.”

The federal grant for the Riverwalk will also provide $1.4 million in funds for the Selmon Greenway, a proposed multi-use trail that will provide pedestrian and bicycle access between the Channel District, Ybor, and the central business district.

The City of Tampa provided renderings of this portion of the Riverwalk.

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