Howard Frankland Bridge northbound at milepost 37
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - The northbound span of the Howard Frankland Bridge heading from St. Petersburg to Tampa is getting old and will soon need to be replaced. Transportation officials say that new span will run taxpayers at a minimum $390 million.
That's what we know. But there are still many other questions when considering what to build for the future. That's why the state is holding a series of public hearings on the future of the Howard Frankland.
Among the issues is whether or not express "toll" lanes, up to two in each direction, will help pay for the new construction. Those can be added on for a cost of $710 million. And what about "premium transportation options," express bus service, or even light rail? There's room for an additional transit bridge exclusively for buses or trains for a price tag of around $1.4 billion.
They're decisions that need to be nailed down now, so whatever is built can accommodate future transportation for decades to come.
"We need to make sure we're building the right kind of bridge, for the right price, for the right future," said Pinellas Commissioner Karen Seel.
Members of the public also sounded off. Light rail was the topic of discussion, with many in favor and others opposing. Whatever's decided, stakeholders on both sides of the bay will have to agree before construction begins as soon as 2018.