Friends of Friendship Trail Bridge have uphill climb

12/19/08 Mitch E. Perry
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Earlier this week, Hillsborough County Commissioners received an update on what it might cost to repair the Friendship Trail bridge. It was shut down after engineers discovered structural problems.

Depending on how much of the bridge is repaired, officials issued repair costs at anywhere between $11 and $82 million, prompting Commissioner Jim Norman to say it may no longer be feasible for local government to do anything about it.

But there are those who fought to create the Friendship Trail Bridge a decade ago, and they’re not ready to concede that the facility is destined to close just yet.

Thursday night in South Tampa, 16 people gathered for the first of what organizers hope to be regular meetups to discuss strategy on how to save the icon.

Earlier this month, former Pinellas County Commissioner Barbara Sheen Todd told the current Pinellas Government that there could be money in the soon to be unveiled federal stimulus bill being discussed right now behind the scenes by President –elect Barack Obama’s economic team and members of Congress. Todd told the Commission to aggressively lobby local members of Congress.

But Neil Cosentino with Tampa Bay Friends of the Friendship Trail Bridge, says there is a danger in looking for others to help pay to revive the Tampa Bay connector.

The next meeting to be held by the Friends of the Friendship Trail Bridge is Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. at the Jan Platt Library.

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