Gandy – Part 2
Last week I posted a couple of shots of debris from the demolished original span of the Gandy Bridge. Above and below are two more.
Below is an image of the oldest surviving bridge span, opened in 1956 (right) and the newest bridge span, opened in 1997. The span on the right is no longer in use, it is the Friendship Trail Bridge, dearly departed but still haunting us with its presence.
Originally built for motor vehicle traffic, the bridge span was deemed unsafe for that purpose in 1997. However, it was reopened in 1999 for bicycles and pedestrians as the Friendship Trail Bridge. I did not move to Florida until late 2006 and never had the pleasure of crossing the Friendship Trail. I can only imagine how much fun it was to cross the bay without threat of crazed motorists. (Cyclists do ride on the motor vehicle part of the Gandy Bridge – considering the sanity of drivers around here, that seems like an iffy proposition at best.) I’ve long believed that our communities are over-designed for cars and that we ignore other forms of transit at our own peril. So it was a real shame when the Friendship Trail Bridge was declared structurally unsound and closed in 2008. Considering how bad the economy was by then, it was a bad time to look for funds to repair a pedestrian bridge. In 2009, the County Commissions of Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties decided to demolish the Friendship Trail rather than repair it. It’s my understanding that even demolition funds can’t be found, so the closed bridge slowly wastes away. It’s a real loss to our community that this pedestrian bridge is not in service.
This sea gull, spotted overlooking the bridge, seems to agree with me.
On a more pleasant note, there are a few mangroves in the area.
Mangroves are amazing trees. I think of them as “island builders.” This article gives a brief explanation of their importance. But the short version is that mangroves provide nursery areas for sea life and they stabilize coastal areas. This is especially important in areas that are prone to hurricanes.