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Officials differ on Howard Frankland Bridge plans

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File Photo: Howard Frankland Bridge File Photo: Howard Frankland Bridge
File photo: Howard Frankland Bridge File photo: Howard Frankland Bridge
HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, FL (WFLA) -

State and local officials are at odds with just what kind of bridge to build to replace the north-bound Howard Frankland route.

"We're going to need it, in my opinion, at some point in the future," said Raymond Chiaramonte, "So why not just do the bridge all together?"

Chiaramonte is the Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Planning Commission. "Not everybody's going to drive in the future, not everybody drives now," he added.

 In December, Pinellas County leaders will decide whether or not to hold an election, next year, to build a light rail system. 

Should the county vote to build one the hope of leaders there and Hillsborough County, is that a new bridge would be able to support it.

"Because you have the Westshore area and you have the Gate Carillon area, both: huge job generation areas," said Pinellas County Commissioner, Karen Seel.

Project Manager Ming Gao, with the Florida Department of Transportation says the initial proposal was to rebuild the bridge as it is.

"At this point we're just replacing the existing bridge," he said.

"We're looking at, in the next five to ten years, getting the bridge replaced."

That would cost about $390 million dollars, which FDOT hopes to raise in that time.

Building the bridge, with mass transit accommodations, comes with a price tag of about $1.4 billion dollars.

Gao says financing such a project would require more than just FDOT funds

"This area would have to come together and figure out how to fund the component," he said.

"There will be a federal, state and local, joint effort."

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