NEW TAMPA, Fla. - A late morning ribbon cutting in New Tampa signaled a new beginning, according to Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
The ceremony was held to celebrate the opening of the New Tampa Boulevard Bridge over I-75. The bridge, which is 0.7 miles long, connects Commerce Park Boulevard in Tampa Palms with New Tampa Boulevard in West Meadows. According to Mayor Buckhorn, it will give motorists a faster way to get around.
"New Tampa has suffered for a long time [with traffic] and the new development has far surpassed the county to keep up with it," said Mayor Buckhorn. "Over the long term, the bridge and the convenience it provides to the surrounding neighborhoods will improve the quality of life for area residents."
He added, not only will this bridge help drivers get around the New Tampa area quicker, but it also provides a safer addition for pedestrians and bike riders as there are now paths for both along the bridge. It includes a five foot sidewalk on the south side and an eight foot wide trail on the north side.
Sabia Atteyih's 17-year-old son goes to Freedom High School and their home is just yards away from the base of the bridge on the New Tampa Boulevard side. She said the opening of the bridge is welcomed by her family.
"He will be able to get to school quicker," said Atteyih. "He doesn't have to go all the way to Bruce B. Downs and go all the way around."
New Tampa resident and business owner Kat Ward said she thinks it will be a great addition for businesses in the area. At the same time, she said she can understand why some of her neighbors were opposed to the bridge being built in the beginning.
"It was a quiet road and it was a dead end and it was like conservation in the area. But, I think if they look past it, they will start to see that its a good thing," said Ward.
Construction on the overpass started in May of 2011 and with a $12.8 million price tag, Mayor Buckhorn said the city is definitely getting enough bang for its buck.
"These are the kinds of investments that city government makes that translates into real impacts on peoples quality of life."