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A Tampa Riverwalk expansion will connect neighborhoods to downtown and increase pedestrian safety

Overhead footage shows the Tampa Riverwalk winding through Tampa Bay.
City of Tampa
The Riverwalk follows the Hillsborough River for about seven miles.

The Tampa Riverwalk will be expanded by five miles and connect areas including Tampa Heights, Bayshore Boulevard, and Hyde Park to downtown.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor unveiled plans Tuesday to expand the Tampa Riverwalk to neighborhoods near downtown Tampa while increasing bicycle and pedestrian safety.

According to a news release, the 5-mile expansion will allow the Riverwalk to connect more neighborhoods, including West Tampa, Tampa Heights, Bayshore Boulevard, Hyde Park, Riverside Heights, North Franklin Street, and Bowman Heights. 

The construction phase of the project is scheduled to be completed by 2027.

New parts of the trail will include over-water segments and living shorelines, according to the release.

Castor said the expansion will give residents easier — and safer — access to downtown Tampa.

"This project is about more than just following the river, it's about connecting our neighborhoods and making them safer," Castor said in the release. "We are thrilled to be able to transform the west side of the river and fill in the gaps. 

"This project will make it safer and more fun for anyone who wants to come to downtown and experience the center of our city, the Hillsborough River.”

City officials released a video that provides an aerial view of a portion of the Riverwalk, showcasing its wide sidewalk.

U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, helped to secure a grant to fund the West River Project. She says one of the primary reasons for the project is to improve pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

"The $24M BUILD grant will improve neighborhoods, mobility, and connectivity through 12 miles of multi-modal paths and street improvements,” Kathy Castor said. 

The expansion of the walkway will increase its distance to 12.2 miles. The city has recently advertised for a design-build team or firm to design and construct the project, the release said.

Map shows Tampa Riverwalk expansion
City of Tampa

Several schools are along the planned route, and the wide sidewalks and updated crosswalk policies will allow children to walk or ride to school safely, according to the release.

These updates fall in line with Vision Zero, an international movement to eliminate pedestrian casualties.

According to the Friends of the Riverwalk website, Mayor Bill Poe originally proposed the idea of a riverwalk in 1975 during a bicentennial celebration.

Phase I of the Riverwalk Master Plan was completed in 2006. New trail features, like the Water Works Park and the Kennedy Street Plaza, have been added nearly every year since its completion.

Other features located near the walk include the Tampa Convention center, the Tampa Bay History Center, and numerous bars and restaurants.

The trail is home to annual RiverFest events, as well as numerous parades and holiday celebrations, and has served to draw the Tampa community together.

Riverwalk: Photo features the Platt Street Bridge over the Hillsborough river.
City of Tampa
City of Tampa
The Platt Street bridge will be a part of the Riverwalk expansion.

Joanna Keen is the WUSF Stephen Noble Digital News intern for spring of 2023.