Hillsborough Commission delays demolition of Friendship Trail Bridge

3:47 PM, Jun 27, 2012   |    comments
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Tampa, Florida -- The Hillsborough County Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to delay demolition of the Friendship Trail Bridge.

The Commission originally voted to destroy the bridge back in April 2010. The Commission said they came to the decision after a second engineering report revealed the estimate to repair the bridge would cost $48 million for 10 additional years of use. An original estimate in 2008 suggested it would only cost $15 million. The jump in estimates ultimately led to their decision after the cost to demolish it would only be $4 million.

The bridge closed to motorists in December 2008 after the structure was evaluated and reported to being dangerously deteriorated and might collapse under its own weight.

However, public outcry over the demolition gained momentum and a FTB group formed to find ways to save the bridge. The group presented a proposal to the commission this past May to turn the bridge into a linear park to attract residents and tourists.

In Wednesday's meeting, County Commission Kevin Beckner led the effort and the Commission agreed to hold off on the demolition after receiving hundreds of calls and emails from citizens who want to save the bridge.

"We don't have all of the information we need to move forward today" said Commissioner Beckner, of the Bridge "and delaying the demolition gives our citizens the opportunity to tell us unequivocally what they want.  This process will be good for the community in the long run, regardless of the outcome."

The Commission have also delayed the decision to select a company to demo the bridge.

The county says a referendum to fund the needed improvements to the Friendship Trail Bridge could be on the November ballot.

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