The Tampa Riverwalk. Photo: www.tampa.maps.arcgis.com
A federal transportation grant of $24M is being awarded to the City of Tampa to extend the west portion of Riverwalk North and connect to nearby neighborhoods. The grant is awarded through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (USDOT) Better Utilizing Investment to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant. The money will pay for approximately 12 miles of contiguous multi-modal paths separated from vehicle traffic, with complete streets and traffic calming improvements.
The project will connect downtown Tampa, the University of Tampa, West Tampa, Tampa Heights, Bayshore, Hyde Park and Ybor City with the multi-modal paths, complete streets and under bridge/over water segments, install new pavement, guard rails, lighting and landscaping and repair seawalls, according to the release. Hillsborough County also received $25 million in the same grant fund to widen and reconstruct the existing interchange with Big Bend Road and Interstate 75, adding bicycle lanes and multi-use paths as well as a roundabout at the intersection of Old Big Bend Road and Bullfrog Creek Road.
Local elected officials say the grant will forge closer economic and mobility links between the Riverwalk and West Tampa, paving the way for more affordable housing, green space and sustainable living. A city plan calls for “West River” to link neighborhoods south of Interstate 275 all the way to Tampa Bay with 1,600 new residential units at various price points.
The grant will fund the completion of the 12.2-mile Riverwalk. The city and local public and private partners have already invested more than $1 billion on parks, housing and office and retail space in the project area. The project is expected to increase private sector investment by more than $700 million. The grant requires a 20% local match, bringing the total investment under the grant to $30 million.
Completed portions of the Riverwalk on the Hillsborough River’s west side were finished using $10 million in federal funding. “Ultimately, over the next 10 years, the goal is to have created a genuinely diverse and economically integrated community,” the plan reads on the city’s website.
U.S. Senators. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott also helped secure the grant. State Representative Jackie Toledo was also a local partner.
BUILD will be evaluated based on merit criteria that include safety, economic competitiveness, quality of life, environmental sustainability, state of good repair, innovation, and partnership. To better address the needs of rural America, which has historically been neglected, DOT intends to award 50% of BUILD Transportation grant funding to projects located in rural areas that deliver positive benefits for these communities, consistent with the Department’s R.O.U.T.E.S. initiative. For this round of BUILD Transportation grants, the maximum grant award is $25 million. No more than $100 million can be awarded to a single State, as specified in the appropriations act. *Source: U.S. Department of Transportation website
Tampa and Hillsborough County were the only local governments in Florida to receive the BUILD grants. The city didn’t immediately have a completion date for the Riverwalk portion of the project due to being notified only Thursday, September 10, of the big news, but it should take from three to five years, said Mayor Jane Castor’s spokeswoman Ashley Bauman.
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