The Federal Channel on the Hillsborough River was established in the late 1800s and is primarily 100 feet wide, centered on the river.South of Kennedy Boulevard Bridge, the channel widens to 200 feet for about .4 of a mile until it terminates in the turning basin just south of the Platt Street Bridge.This wider area may have been due to the increased commercial activity in this particular area.The US Army Corps of Engineers periodically dredges the width of the channel to ensure the proper depths are maintained.
The nature of the 200 foot section has changed considerably over the years.Commercial establishments, such as Mirabellas, have been replaced with parks, hotels, and non-marine office buildings. Water taxi studies recommend a dock for a stop in the MacDill Park area. However, the bend in the 200 foot wide channel is very close to the seawall in this area and precludes any dockage. With the change in the commercial nature of this area, the city has taken the initiative to update this section, making it the same as the rest of the channel north of the bridge. In 2008, the city coordinated with the Coast Guard, US Army Corps of Engineers, Port Authority, and city offices to assess any impact of this action. With no concerns found, the city worked with the Corp of Engineers to draft the language provided to Congress to narrow this short stretch of the channel bringing it in line with the rest of the river.
This action decommissions 50 feet on either side of the channel, resulting in uniform 100-foot channel centered on the river.The action has no effect on environmental permitting and policies, or any marine regulations or ordinances that govern the marine environment. After this action is taken, the same laws and ordinances will continue to govern this area just as it has for the river north of the Kennedy Boulevard Bridge. The Riverwalk currently under construction in this area does not impact the Federal Channel. The city is working with Representative Castor’s office and the proposed channel language is included in the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), now in the final congressional stages. Should WDRA be passed and signed into law, the linked channel language will also be enacted.
In summary, this initiative brings a small section of the Federal Channel up to date by making it the same width as the rest of the channel.The primary purpose of this action is to allow for any future dockage along this section of the waterfront. All the current policies and ordinances governing development will remain. Lee Hoffman, City of Tampa staff, presented this information to both the Technical Advisory Council and the River Board.On February 24, 2014, the River Board took unanimous action to issue a letter of support for this proposed action