Construction to begin on final stretch of Tampa Riverwalk

TAMPA - It's a project that was first conceived 40-some years ago.

Tuesday morning it took the next step towards becoming a reality, with a presence of at least six current and former Tampa mayors.

Mayor Bob Buckhorn, joined by the past mayors and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez, announced the final 1,500 feet of the downtown Tampa Riverwalk.

The ultimate leg will cost an estimated $9.2 million dollars and once complete, will link the 2.2 mile-long project from Channelside to Tampa Heights.

The span goes underneath the Kennedy bridge and will link MacDill Park with the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park downtown.

But Buckhorn told the crowd this is just the beginning.

"This downtown you will not recognize in 10 years, and it will not end on the west bank of the river.  This river will be the centerpiece of our urban experience," Mayor Buckhorn told a gathered crowd.

The hope is the project renews what current projects are being done in downtown, bringing people and their financial investments back to the urban core.

Former mayor Pam Iorio told ABC Action News at one point when she wanted to get the project off the ground, there were naysayers who said the project wasn't viable.

"There were a lot of people who thought well that's not a key piece of infrastructure, that looks like a waste of money, but it's not a waste of money at all," she said.

But 82-year-old former mayor William Poe said what this ultimately means for the city.

"I think we have a better heart than anything else in the world," Poe said.

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