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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Coming Tuesday, the Bob and Pam and Dick and Sandy and (another) Bob and Bill show

The next section of Tampa's Riverwalk is arguably the one that is most sorely needed, most technically challenging and most expensive to build.

So to mark the start of construction of this long-desired project, Tampa officials plan to assemble the municipal government equivalent of a rock supergroup.

"I've got all six mayors coming, so send the photogs," Mayor Bob Buckhorn said this week. "It's going to be pretty cool."

Buckhorn often says six Tampa mayors have spent 40 years working to create the Riverwalk, so he has invited his living predecessors — Bill Poe, Bob Martinez, Sandy Freedman, Dick Greco and Pam Iorio — to join him at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park for the project's official launch.

The section to be built next will go over 1,460 feet of the Hillsborough River, running parallel to the eastern bank of the river, and under the Kennedy Boulevard bridge. It must be built over water because the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel and other properties along that section are built all the way to the seawall. It will have four shaded areas 35 feet wide and 35 to 75 feet long. Once it is open, the Riverwalk will cover an unbroken 1.8 miles.

The $9.2 million project is expected to take 18 months, with an opening in November 2014. Johnson Brothers, which built the section of the Riverwalk under the Brorein Street bridge, is the contractor.

Because a $10.9 million federal transportation grant is key to the project, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez also is expected on Tuesday. The grant covers about 70 percent of the money needed for the section of the Riverwalk to be built under the Kennedy bridge and a future section to be built going north from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts to Water Works Park. Work on the second section is expected to start in the spring 2014 and will be complete by spring 2015.

The federal grant also provides $1.4 million to design and build a planned 15-foot-wide, 1.7-mile multiuse trail along the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway.

[Last modified: Friday, May 31, 2013 1:48pm]


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