March 2021 – In January, Milton Martinez with the City of Tampa presented their project to add Riverwalk improvements to the West Side of the Hillsborough River to the Hillsborough River Interlocal Planning Board’s Technical Advisory Council. Mr. Martinez explained that in early 2020, the City of Tampa submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Transportation to complete a package of mobility and safety improvements in the West River area. In the Fall of 2020, the City of Tampa received notice of a $24M award from the U.S. Department of Transportation under the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grant Program. The City of Tampa is calling the project the West River District Multi-Modal and Safety Improvements BUILD Grant Project.
The project involves completing the remaining gaps in what will be a 12.2 mile multi-use pathway and installing enhanced crossing features at major roadways. Several adjacent city streets will also be enhanced to provide better sidewalks, bike facilities and improved safety for the community. The project will expand connections and provide a variety of safe mobility options for pedestrians and bicyclists throughout the neighborhoods that make up the West River area.
The completed multi-use trail will run along both the western and eastern sides of the Hillsborough River. Thanks to funding from local, state, and federal sources along with grants and private donations, the majority of the network is constructed and only specific gaps must be filled in order to complete the route. The remaining multi-use path segments to be completed on the west side of the River are the Tony Jannus Park, H.B. Plant Park at the University of Tampa, Tampa Preparatory School, Howard W. Blake High School, Stewart Middle School and the Dr. Martin Luther King Recreation Center. Additionally, over-water crossings are needed to provide safe connectivity beneath the Platt Street Bridge, Brorein Street Bridge, and Kennedy Blvd Bridge. These bridge under-crossings will be similar to the bridge crossings along the original Riverwalk on the east side of the river. Additional improvements along the multi-use path include site work, new/rehabilitated pavement, guard rails and pedestrian railing, lighting, landscaping, and seawall/shoreline repair or restoration.
A primary goal of the project is to provide safe walk/bike connections to Downtown Tampa from adjacent neighborhoods, including North Franklin Street/”Yellow Brick Row”, Hyde Park, North Hyde Park, West Tampa, Riverside Heights, Bowman Heights, and Ridgewood Park.
In addition to the multimodal path along the river, the City of Tampa will construct ‘complete street’ enhancements on adjacent street routes through the surrounding neighborhoods in order to improve access to multimodal connections as well as provide additional, safe transportation alternatives. For example, Rome Ave. is a key north-south connector for the City of Tampa, as it provides an important connection under Interstate 275 to surrounding neighborhoods including Tampa’s Downtown, and provides access to employment centers, schools, hospitals, and other institutions. The current roadway lacks key safety features, has intermittent sidewalks and lacks adequate pedestrian crossings. This project will enhance Rome Avenue to provide a safe, convenient, and low-stress connector for all transportation. To support a low-stress network the City plans to include on-street bike facilities, enhanced crosswalks, and pedestrian walkways. Vertical deflection features to limited speeding are also planned, such as raised intersections or crosswalks.
“Our $24M BUILD federal grant to Tampa will lift our neighborhoods, build mobility, and increase connectivity through 12 miles of contiguous multi-modal paths, and provide needed improvements to our streets. I rigorously championed the City of Tampa’s vision due to the transformational improvements that previous grants have provided for our hometown and the related jobs. In fact, our Tampa Riverwalk was completed thanks to $10M in federal funding and it’s been the linchpin in Tampa’s redeveloping downtown and waterfront. Mayor Castor is a tremendous partner in helping to secure these infrastructure dollars and build on our vision for a safer, friendlier, and connected Tampa.” said U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor.
Source: City of Tampa, https://www.tampa.gov/tss/west-river-build