Hillsborough Commission approves funds to demolish Friendship Trail Bridge

01/05/11 Seán Kinane
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This morning Hillsborough County Commissioners unanimously approved spending $4.4 million to partially demolish the Friendship Trail Bridge. John Lyons is the county’s director of Public Works.

"We don't have enough money to do total demolition, but we have about $4.4 million, of which 50 per cent of that came from Pinellas County. We're strategically looking at demolishing the center span for navigation and as much as the two ends on either side of the bay as we can with the funds we have available today."

Some of the commissioners, like Kevin Beckner, called demolishing the Friendship Trail Bridge a difficult decision, but one that had to be made.

"I have to say it's a sad and heartbreaking day in our county when you look at a structure that has served for so long as a gateway and the connection between sister counties. It's just so hard to see that go away. When I came to the board we started debating this issue. [Former] Commissioner [Jim] Norman brought up some great points and I think we've gotten to the point where it seems there's not a whole lot of other choices that we have especially in light of the amount of dollars that it would take to fix the bridge. What was that estimated at Mr. Lyons?"

"Somewhere north of $40 to $50 million dollars and it was essentially to replace it."

The Friendship Trail Bridge connecting Hillsborough to Pinellas is the old Gandy bridge, which was slated for demolition when the new Gandy was built. But activists rallied to save the old span to use as a recreational trail.

Hillsborough County staff recommendation on demolition of Friendship Trail Bridge

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Damn, er; Bridge Shame

Of course makes sense, but despite making sense, its a damn shame. I say, "its time to build a new span for Grandy and put the older span to good use replacing the Friendship Trail Bridge. So there!"