- ASD/Kenneth Cowart w/Gordon Tarpley of studio AMD
- A conceptual rendering of Friendship Trail Bridge walkways.
As readers of CL know from our coverage of the Friendship Trail Bridge, Hillsborough County Commissioners were poised earlier this spring to spend $4.2 million to raze the once-popular recreational attraction.
Then the bridge won a last-minute reprieve; a group of activists came forward in April to ask that they be given time to work up a proposal to save the structure. That request was granted, and since then the group has met and worked on an almost daily basis on a plan that they contend will make the bridge better and stronger in the long run — or at least for the next 35 years.
The plan was completed this week and handed into the Hillsborough County Commission on Monday. It’s a 70-page document called “A Vision Beyond Demolition,” and it posits that by creating a nonprofit organization that would work with Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, the bridge can be kept alive. The authors say the nonprofit could be funded through grants, local government contributions and revenues from vendors, parking fees and other events. The goal is to raise a total of $12.65 million by 2017 and to keep the bridge in use until 2048, when it would be demolished.
The authors of the plan are architect Ken Cowart, marketing consultants Kevin Thurman and Julia Freeman, and attorney Brian Willis. After thorough analysis of engineering reports, usage studies, and nationwide comparable projects, plus discussions with architects, engineers and lawyers, the team came to a conclusion: “We are certain that the Friendship Trail Bridge can be saved.”