Grand Opening of the Friendship TrailBridge
“Hands Across the Bay"
December 11, 1999
The 2.6 mile “old” Gandy Bridge was built in 1956. When a southbound replacement was built, ownership of the “old” bridge was transferred from the state to Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties. The bridge was rehabilitated to a recreation trail and re-opened in 1999 as the “Friendship TrailBridge”. It was so named in a 2-county naming contest sponsored by Coca-Cola, inspired by the cooperation between the two counties. It was annually used by approximately 600,000 bikers, hikers, walkers, rollerbladers, fishermen, persons with disabilities, and our military until it was closed in 2008 for safety reasons and eventually demolished.
While the Friendship TrailBridge provided the trail’s connection over Tampa Bay, government entities on both sides of the bay planned and began connecting trails for what could become the “Friendship Trail”. The opportunity for further development of those plans will exist as the Florida Dept. of Transportation will begin studies to replace the older (northbound) Gandy Bridge. The precedent of a planned pedestrian lane on the new Howard Frankland Bridge is encouraging.
A completed Friendship Trail would involve a variety of experiences including urban, suburban neighborhoods, parks, 2.6 miles over-the-water (Tampa Bay) and a possible return of fishing opportunities which had been lost.