I'm blogging live from the Friendship TrailBridge meeting at the Weeden Nature Center in St. Petersburg regarding the future of the Friendship Trail. A committee of officials and citizens from both Pinellas and Hillsborough counties will hear a report, which says it will cost $15 million to fix the old Gandy Bridge that serves as the Friendship Trail.
SWFBUD wants both counties to fix the bridge, which has structural problems. Both counties own the trail-bridge.
$4 million was scheduled for improvements, but now there are four different options, including demolishing it for $13 million and fixing it for $15 million. Partial improvement and repair of the limited end portions is $10 million. New piers and bridge demolition would be $17 million.
An engineer is giving a powerpoint to show the "internal structural defects" for the 1956 bridge. In 1995, the new bridge for westbound traffic opened.
The TrailBridge is one of the longest pedestrian bridges over water in the world -- 2.6 miles long.
Problem is there is deterioration -- and the powerpoint shows nasty cracks and deterioration in the beams and steel tendons. The bridge has been closed since November 2008.
It's a packed house here in a meeting room, including Adam Beland, owner of Bicycle Outfitters in Seminole and Dottie Jessup of Chainwheel Drive in Clearwater. I'd say about 100 people are here.