Tampa’s new Howard Frankland Bridge to accommodate light rail

November 14, 2013 by  

The Howard Frankland Bridge, the central bridge linking St. Petersburg to Tampa across Tampa Bay, is being redeveloped and the work includes strengthening the structure so it can carry light rail, it was reaffirmed on October 30.

The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) has made a commitment to spend $25m to make sure the bridge is strong enough to handle the trains.

Ming Gao, who is planning manager for the FDOT, said the agency is not building amenities, but instead has opted to use the funds to increase the strength of the structure. Considering the possibility of including light rail does not change any of the decisions or progress already made on the span.

The bridge structure, which was built in 1959, is becoming worn, leading to plans for its redevelopment. The current design would replace the old bridge with one that looks much the same, but the new span would include extra space, either to the side or in the middle of the traffic lanes, where bus traffic, express lanes, or light rail could be placed.

The total cost of the project is expected to be approximately $390m, with the $25m for light rail added to that cost. Pinellas and Hillsborough counties still have to express their wishes with regard to the renovation.

Department of Transportation officials could work with brochure printers to create a mailer for area residents, explaining the benefits of light rail, such as reduced pollution, less auto traffic, and a “greener” mode of transport.