The Riverwalk’s full bloom
A steady stream of joggers along the recently completed Riverwalk section near the Brorein Street bridge in Tampa is testimony to the appeal of a project defined by fits and starts. The effort to line the Hillsborough River with a paved walkway from Channelside north to Tampa Water Works Park has been on the books since the 1970s. Though plenty of sections have been built over the years, there remains that exasperating gap at the Kennedy Boulevard bridge. It forces walkers, runners and cyclists to make a choice: turn around, or traverse the dysfunctional Kennedy Boulevard and Ashley Street intersection to get to the Riverwalk section on the other side.It’s a pretty good bet a lot of people turn around. But that will no longer be the case. The city announced recently that a new segment running under Kennedy Boulevard should be in place by late next year. The city plans to spend $8.8 million to build the Kennedy Boulevard Plaza segment. The money to finance the work is coming from a U.S. Department of Transportation grant. A section will be built on pilings beneath the bridge that leave about 10 feet for people to walk, jog and cycle from one side of the bridge to the other without having to leave the Riverwalk walkway. The pathway along the segment will be wider than other sections and will include shaded seating areas. Its position just south of Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park makes it a key link for the Riverwalk, and minimizes the number of pedestrians forced to cross busy Kennedy Boulevard. “This may be one of the most consequential things the city has done for generations,” City Council member Harry Cohen said. Although that may be a bit over the top, there is no doubt it will bring the Riverwalk into full bloom.