The Tampa Bay Times published a story on the Friendship TrailBridge that was one-sided and riddled with errors that I am not going to post it here, In the comments section, one of the FTB report authors -- Tampa architect Ken Cowart -- addressed all the issues and I am posting Ken's comments here. The Times story did not even contact Ken or fellow report author Kevin Thurmon.
1. Our plan can be downloaded and viewed by anyone at friendshiptrailbridge dot
com, it is a comprehensive 70 page plan an 200 page appendix with all the facts,
history and data.
2. In our plan we are not requesting any additional monies
from either county, only the funds already allocated for demolition.
bridge was not closed for vehicular use in 1995 due to structural issues, it was
shut down due to the new span constructed.
4. In 2008 when structural issues
were discovered they were limited to the girders on the low span approaches.
This is why our plan involves the immediate demolition of these portions.
Contrary to the article, our plan includes monies for the repair of the pilings,
we simply disagree with staff that every single piling must be repaired on day
one, especially the pilings that are in good condition. We will repair every
piling during the first 10 years of operation. Which is more than most bridges
6. Engineers did NOT look at the bridge again in 2010. They
simply performed a peer review of the previous report. The price tag of $48
million was flat out rejected at the time because it suggested an inappropraite
repair option. Previous repairs were estimated between $7 and $15 million.
7. Our plan includes a series of benchmarks in order to not put the
tax-payer at risk. We plan to raise the needed $13.7 million dollars from the
private sector over 5 years.
After countless interviews and discussions with
several people in the media, it is puzzling that not one of the "backers" were
contacted prior to this article being published. Saving the Friendship Trail
Bridge is saving a tremendous asset to the community. Over 600,000 users a year
when it was opened! That's a lot! It is one thing that connects Hillsborough and
Pinellas and allows citizens to appreciate Tampa Bay.