TAMPA — Can you imagine biking down Bayshore Boulevard toward downtown, crossing the river, then riding along a nearly 2-mile trail to Ybor City?
Carrie Wildes can.
"We are very active," Wildes said of she and her husband, David, who live in Seminole Heights. "We like to bike, and living where we do there's not a lot of places that are easily accessible," she said. "That would be actually perfect for long-run training or biking."
Wildes may be in luck, because city and county officials hope to transform a 1.7-mile space under the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway into a keystone urban trail that would tie together Bayshore, the Riverwalk, Channel District and Ybor City.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization paid $50,000 to Renaissance Planning Group to study the feasibility and determine the preferred route for what is being called the Selmon Greenway project. The report is expected to be complete by October. A public meeting and another update is planned for Aug. 17.
Alan Steinbeck, the project manager, updated members of the Hillsborough County Livable Roadways Committee about the project at a June 23 meeting.
"We are not just concerned with the greenway itself, but how it connects downtown," Steinbeck said.
The Selmon Greenway would be built in stages as part of other road projects, including a planned expressway expansion. Because the project is in its infancy, officials do not have cost estimates.
Ideally, the greenway would be a linear park with benches, water fountains and exercise equipment along a 15-foot-wide, tree-lined path. It would connect to the Riverwalk downtown, the Meridian Street Greenway, Bayshore Boulevard, the TECO Line Streetcar System and the Marion Street Transitway. The preliminary route shows the route stretching across property currently used for public parking downtown.
The study will determine ways to minimize the loss of parking spaces.
Former City Council member Linda Saul-Sena said getting all the government agencies on board and seeing the project through could be a boon to downtown.
"This is such a tremendous project," said Saul-Sena, who is running for the Hillsborough County Commission.
Wildes, 31, agrees. She likes the idea of an urban trail. She does marathon training three or four times a week — typically at the Upper Tampa Bay trail or Flatwoods Park in New Tampa.
"We would love to have something like that for sure," Wildes said about a long-range urban pathway. "It's much more interesting than running on a trail that's lined with trees forever."
Jared Leone can be reached at (813) 226-3435 or firstname.lastname@example.org.