The high-profile capstone of downtown revitalization is the Riverwalk. Now there is real “there there,” to paraphrase Gertrude Stein. It’s great for visitors and locals as well as tourism ads and media priorities for those covering a Tampa event. But the revitalization agenda is more than a downtown upgrade for hipsters and cool ESPN optics. West bank and West Tampa revitalization matter, and the Riverwalk ripples are real. And now, thanks to a $24 million federal transportation grant, even closer mobility and economic links loom. Riverwalk synergy can literally pave the way for more green space, affordable housing and sustainable living. The project will pay for 12 miles of contiguous multi-modal paths connecting the University of Tampa, West Tampa, Tampa Heights, Bayshore, Hyde Park and Ybor City. It will include under bridge/over water segments, new pavements, guard rails, lighting, landscaping and repaired seawalls.
It’s also a reminder that such grants are not just “pork.” They can impact diverse lives for the better. They can also be one of those all-too-rare occasions when across-the-aisle political cooperation can occur—because it’s win-win. This $24 million grant–an acknowledgement that infrastructure need not be a partisan political issue–was a joint effort of Democratic Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Republican Senators Marco Rubio and, yes, Rick Scott.