TAMPA — It doesn't look like much now, but the Selmon Greenway trail should be attracting cyclists and joggers by spring.
Construction on the 1.7-mile trail started about two weeks ago. It is expected to open in mid March.
The goal: to make walking around downtown easier and promote transportation alternatives.
"It's all about mobility, and it's all about choices," said Sue Chrzan at the Tampa Hillsborough Expressway Authority, which is creating the trail.
Including engineering, project management and construction, the total project cost is $1.9 million.
Of that, the expressway authority is paying $477,000. The rest will come from a federal transportation grant that the authority and the city of Tampa won in 2012.
Most of that $10.9 million grant is paying for two sections of the Riverwalk: one now under construction under the Kennedy Boulevard bridge, and a second planned north from the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts to Water Works Park.
The expressway authority awarded Ajax Paving Industries of Tampa a $1.6 million contract to design and build the trail. The greenway's route will start at the Riverwalk near Brorein Street and mostly go east under the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway to 19th Street.
Along the way, it's meant to link the Riverwalk with the Meridian Avenue trail, as well as provide connections to public bus service and the TECO Line streetcar.
"It's like putting together a big puzzle," said Tampa City Council member Lisa Montelione, who is chairwoman of the livable roadways committee of the countywide Metropolitan Planning Organization.
"For so long, we have not emphasized walking and biking," she said, even though new trails attract tourists, commuters and families alike.
"It's just a matter of filling in all the blank spaces," Montelione said, "and the Selmon Greenway is one of those."