TAMPA — Work will start this spring on a public elevator to provide access at the midpoint of the Tampa Riverwalk.
The elevator, required by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act, will carry passengers down from Kennedy Boulevard at the base of Rivergate Tower to the Riverwalk’s new Kennedy Plaza, now under construction between Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and MacDill Park.
The $250,000 elevator is being paid for by a mix of city funds and private money raised by the Friends of the Riverwalk. It’s not part of the $10 million grant that paid for construction of Kennedy Plaza, said Bob McDonaugh, Mayor Bob Buckhorn’s chief of economic development.
Without the elevator, a 900 foot length of the Riverwalk woukld inaccessible from outside — too far to travel for people in wheelchairs or others with limited mobility, McDonaugh said.
The city’s conceptual drawings show the elevator descending along the face of the Rivergate Tower parking garage adjacent to the Kennedy Boulevard bridge. Users will reach the Riverwalk from there by a small walkway.
The Tampa City Council last week expanded the original elevator design contract with HDR Engineering Inc. to include post-construction inspections. That added $15,100 to the original $38,000 contract, said David Vaughn, who oversees construction projects as the city’s contract administrator.
Finn Kavanaugh, executive director Self Reliance Inc., an advocacy group for disabled people, welcomed the construction of the elevator.
said the elevator is a step in the direction of inclusion.
“When it comes down to social needs, a lot of time the needs of the disabled are overlooked,” Kavanaugh said. “Every time the municipalities put an effort into making these facilities accessible, it gets attention.”