Friendship Trail Bridge to permanently close?

12/02/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Early last month, inspectors closed the Friendship Trail Bridge, which runs between Tampa and St. Petersburg, after determining the span has seriously deteriorated.

Engineers said at the time that steel tendons that underpin the span are corroding, breaking the concrete and dropping chunks into Tampa Bay.

The closure is a blow to those cyclists, joggers and inline skaters who use it to work out.

But today, some members of the Hillsborough County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) questioned that closing.

There has been no official estimation what it would cost to repair the bridge, used by nearly 600,000 people annually.

Cit Council member Mary Mulhern pondered whether the bridge could be reclassified as a state park to make it easier to get funding to maintain it.

Last week, Orlando area Congressman John Mica came to Tampa to discuss mass transit, and the federal government’s role in providing funding for that.

Tampa City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena referenced that meeting and said that has been pressure on the federal government to shift funding on federal expenditures in favor of highways to a more equitable distribution of transportation dollars, which could help keep alive the Friendship Trail Bridge.

The MPO voted to hear from Bob Gordon, Hillsborough County’s Public Works director, for an update on the costs of maintaining the bridge at their next meeting.

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Wait until a handfull of pedestrians get hit by cars trying to cross the gandy bridge and funds will become available.