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Progress made on urban trail linking 20 miles of Tampa destinations

TAMPA — A looping, nearly 20-mile-long bicycle and pedestrian trail connecting Tampa neighborhoods with key city destinations is a step closer to reality.

The proposed Perimeter Trail would provide well-marked, safe routes linking such destinations as downtown's shopping and event districts, the banks of the Hillsborough River, city parks and schools, and neighborhoods including Ybor City, Rowlett Park, Sulphur Springs and Lowry Park.

The trail, a joint project being considered by the city of Tampa and the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization, exists now mostly on paper.

Some pieces of the trail already exist, but finishing it carries a relatively high price tag: $6.75 million.

How it would be funded is still undecided, but would likely include a combination of money from the city, the MPO and available grants.

For the city of Tampa, the proposed Perimeter Trail dovetails with its InVision master plan to create a more walkable, bikable city.

Tuesday, more than 50 people gathered at the Robert Saunders Public Library to look at proposed maps and question officials from the Hillsborough Metropolitan Planning Organization and from Atkins, a Jacksonville-based consulting firm.

The next step will happen later this summer when the MPO reviews the proposal for inclusion on its priority list of projects. Once that is done, decisions will be made about how and when it may be funded.

"The Perimeter Trail will be a significant addition to the City of Tampa's bicycle and pedestrian circulation system, as it connects residential areas to parks and other bicycle and pedestrian facilities such as the Selmon Greenway and the Riverwalk extension," says a report on the feasibility of the trail.

Chris Fellerhoff and his 6-year-old son, Daniel, can hardly wait. They bike together regularly and Daniel says "yeah," he would love to be able to explore outside his Old Seminole Heights neighborhood.

David Urena, who also lives in Old Seminole Heights, bikes regularly to work in Ybor City and says he looks forward to biking to other areas of the city.

Wiatt Bowers, a planner with Atkins, estimates a biker, taking his or her time, could travel the entire Perimeter Trail in about three hours.

Roger Carrillo, who lives in South Seminole Heights and has been an avid biker for over 60 years, found out about the meeting through his neighborhood Facebook page.

"I would like a really good route to get downtown," Carrillo said.

How soon bikers would be able to ride safely throughout the city is yet unknown.

The project likely would be developed in phases, said Wade Reynolds, a planner with the MPO.

The proposed trail is divided into eight segments, with costs for each ranging from $41,600 to $1.25 million.

The segments include: State Road 60 and Adamo Drive to the intersection of 21st Avenue and 29th Street; 21st Avenue to East Hillsborough Avenue; East Hillsborough Avenue to 22nd Street Park (including the 22nd Street Park); 22nd Street Park to Sulphur Springs Park; Sulphur Springs Park to Sligh Avenue; Sligh Avenue to West Hillsborough Avenue; West Hillsborough Avenue to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard; and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard to Palm Avenue.

Completing the entire trail involves identifying low-vehicle-traffic streets, installing roadway signage, creating both dedicated bicycle lanes and sidewalks as well as shared roadway lane markings, and installation of pedestrian- or biker-activated traffic signals on higher traffic volume streets.

If the trail were done all at once, it would take about a year to complete, Reynolds said.

Contact Sheila Estrada at