Tampa City Council gave the final OK to the next phase of the Tampa Riverwalk, an $8.8 million project that will run beneath the Kennedy Boulevard bridge.
The council approved hiring Johnson Bros. Construction to do the work, which will require building over the Hillsborough River from MacDill Park to Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.
Johnson Bros. built the Riverwalk segment beneath the Brorein Street bridge that opened last summer.
The new segment, known as the Kennedy Boulevard Plaza, is scheduled to open late next year. Designs call for a path wider than other stretches of the Riverwalk, with four shaded seating areas.
The work will be financed by a grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. It brings the city within reach of finishing a project that has been in the works since the 1970s.
“This may be one of the most consequential things the city has done for generations,” said Councilman Harry Cohen, whose district includes downtown.
Last fall, the city secured a 25-year lease of air rights beneath the Kennedy bridge, which is owned by the state Department of Transportation.
The Riverwalk segment will rest on pilings beneath the bridge with about 10 feet of clearance between the deck and the underside of the bridge, according to plans.
The Riverwalk will fill the east side of the bridge, leaving the center and west channels free for boat traffic.
A last part of the Riverwalk remains: a land-based route from Hixon park to Water Works Park, north of Interstate 275. That phase is being designed and will come to council for a sign-off next week.
When finished, the Riverwalk will offer an unbroken pedestrian corridor of nearly 2.5 miles from Water Works Park along the Hillsborough River to the Tampa Bay History Center on Garrison Channel.