Hillsborough County Commissioners vote to demolish Friendship Trailbridge
Hillsborough County commissioners said Wednesday that they had little choice but to approve demolition of parts of the Friendship TrailBridge.
Commissioners voters unanimously to support chipping in half of the estimated $4.4 million cost to demolish essentially both ends of the former Gandy Bridge, which county engineers say is falling apart and poses a danger to the public. Pinellas County will pay for the other half.
"I think this is a difficult decision for many of us," said Commissioner Kevin Beckner. "It's just so hard to see that connection going away."
The bridge linking South Tampa to Pinellas County, a popular recreation spot for joggers, bikers, rollerbladers and anglers, has been closed since late in 2008. That's when engineers for the county spotted several areas of the bridge that were crumbling to the point where they say it threatened the integrity of the span.
Plans call for demolishing about 2,200 feet on either end of the bridge which are closest to the water. Another 234 feet closer to the center of the span also would be taken down. But most of the center span would remain standing until both local governments can come up with the estimated $7 million it will cost to destroy the whole bridge.
Initial demolition work is expected to take place toward the end of the year.