The Leeroy Selmon Crosstown Expressway is a tolled road that connects the South Tampa neighborhoods with unincorporated Hillsborough County. It is a major transportation artery that cuts directly through Downtown Tampa, an area currently undergoing major planning redevelopments, including a planned Riverwalk development. There is ample space along the Crosstown Expressway to create a 1.7-mile greenway that would connect with other planned redevelopments, providing Tampa with a more cohesive and environmentally friendly downtown district.
The Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Crosstown Expressway Authority have conducted feasibility studies for the creation of a greenway along the Crosstown. The study found that a greenway would be a great addition to the Downtown district in many ways.
Besides creating a much needed pedestrian trail through the traffic-heavy corridor, the addition of a greenway would improve the area in several ways:
- Create more parks for residents in the area;
- Connect Downtown with surrounding areas;
- Allow the incorporation of art, architecture, and history walkways;
- Improve stormwater management through the use of permeable ground materials;
- Improve the overall environmental design, landscape, and sustainability of the vehicle-heavy area.
Downtown Tampa would benefit tremendously from more innovative planning like this. Tampa is a vehicle-oriented city with multiple urban cores that, currently, are only connected through roadways. There are few examples of pedestrian-friendly areas in the city, especially in the core areas. This greenway would connect three of the core areas in pedestrian-friendly and environmentally-friendly ways. The feasibility study cites examples such as Minneapolis Midtown Greenway and the Boston Rose Kennedy Greenway as successful, multi-use greenway projects that have improved the pedestrian accessibility and environmental design of urban centers. Tampa hopes to join that list with this urban planning project.
While the feasibility study has been a success with the Tampa municipal government, the project faces an uphill battle with funding. Similar projects have been proposed but have failed to come to fruition, and the city faces strict budget constraints in the current economic environment.
Would your city benefit from a similar greenway project? Would it be feasible to build?
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