Mayor Walt Maddox, members of the Tuscaloosa City Council and area leaders gathered Monday morning to celebrate the groundbreaking of the Western Riverwalk Expansion, an ELEVATE Tuscaloosa project.

Maddox said the city took an active role in revitalizing West Tuscaloosa through the investment of $150 million for various projects to "reverse generations of neglect."

"We knew we had to make a difference for West Tuscaloosa and I am proud to say the city has kept that commitment," Maddox said during the ceremony.

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The $11 million project will begin at the Oliver Lock & Dam Park and expand across the now-vacant Tuscaloosa Country Club property, which Maddox said will improve the quality of life for West Tuscaloosa.

Maddox said the expansion will be almost one mile that will include lighting and security cameras, a 12-foot shared pedestrian and bike pathway that will ultimately connect to the Jack Warner-Martin L. King project in phase three.

"This riverwalk is going to create future connections to the existing riverwalk trail, the Saban Center, downtown and UA and by 2032, you'll be able to go from this spot in West Tuscaloosa all the way to Watermelon Road and McWright's Ferry Road without ever leaving the riverwalk," Maddox said.

Maddox said this project saw a partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers established, which allowed more room and access to the site, and allowed the city to enhance the former country club property that will help with economic development.

"This will not only be a bonus for West Tuscaloosa, but for all of Tuscaloosa," Maddox said.

Rev. Matthew Wilson, councilman for District 1, said the project has been long-awaited and will improve the quality of life for citizens of the West End.

"It's a game-changer," Wilson said. "I truly believe that once the connectivity happens to this area, it's going to help boost economic development. I believe the possibilities are great and that my district will reap the benefits for future generations."

Wilson said the expansion will allow those to see the greatness of the west side and bring much-need access to opportunities to residents of the area.

"I want people to know the western cluster is not a bad place to live and not a bad place to invest in," Wilson said. "With these amenities that are coming, it's going to prove that it's going to be safe, we're going to have the opportunities for recreation, growth, family and opportunities. It's going to allow people to take time to work out, rest and even see the beautiful water. The water is a calming place and I know that this site is going to change a generation."

Maddox thanked Congresswoman Terri Sewell, former Senator Richard Shelby, Senator Tommy Tuberville and other partners that helped during the course of planning phase.

"You can't underestimate the complexities of working with the Corps of Engineers entangle," Maddox said. "There are certain aspects of this project that literally declared an act of Congress so you think about what it took for us to get to this point and we're really proud of it."

Stay connected to the Tuscaloosa Thread for future updates on additional infrastructure projects happening in and around the Druid City.

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