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The staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Friendship Trail Bridge backers get some time to polish their rescue plan

A group of volunteers seeking to save and revamp the Friendship Trail Bridge have a little more time to polish their proposal.

The group, working with architects and engineers, is pitching a proposal to replace deteriorating concrete spans with lighter, narrower metal decking. Along the trail, backers are a series of inviting activity and/or gathering spots, some shaded, in an effort to turn the former 2.6 mile span of the Gandy Bridge into an above-water linear park.

They say it could cost just less than $20 million, and are pledging to raise as much as $13 million in public donations.

The group was initially slated to present the idea to Hillsborough County commissioners May 16. Now they have until June 6, after their item was postponed from the next meeting agenda. Volunteers said they'll spend those additional three weeks to meet with county staff, interested members of the public and others, to address any questions or concerns that arise.

County commissioner Mark Sharpe was on-hand for an official unveiling of the proposal Wednesday at the Hillsborough entrance to the bridge, which was fenced off in 2008 out of concern for public safety. He said the proposal is impressive.

"I like the fact that the citizens are taking the lead on this," Sharpe said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 9, 2012 6:42pm]


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