TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Traffic was stopped for hours along the Howard Frankland Bridge Wednesday morning after an SUV flipped multiple times and rolled over the barrier into the water below, authorities say.
In June 2018, a similar situation occurred when a pickup truck hydroplaned and went over a guardrail on the Howard Frankland Bridge. Fortunately, that driver was able to get out.
WFLA Now’s live stream was flooded with concerned commenters wondering what it will take to raise those barriers to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again.
Now, 8 On Your Side is looking into the record-setting plan to remodel the historic bridge.
The bridge barriers were designed according to the AASHTO (American Association of State Highways and Transportation Officials) Standards at the time of the original design and construction.
Last year, the Florida Department of Transportation prepared a record $814.4 million contract to rebuild the northbound bridge, which was originally constructed in 1959, and redesign the southbound bridge.
But will the redesign, slated to begin in 2020, allow for a change of the barriers on the bridge?
According to plans and renderings from FDOT District 7, “The new design will improve incident management in emergency response situations and provide additional capacity along a critical evacuation route.”
The bridge’s current barriers are made of steel-reinforced tapered concrete and are 32 inches tall.
According to FDOT District 7 spokeswoman Kristen Carson, that height will change with the new construction.
“In summary, the older bridge had a barrier height of 32 inches, and we are increasing it to 36 inches to 42 inches,” Carson said.
Along with a higher barrier, the bridge will include four non-tolled lanes, two tolled express lanes in both directions, two northbound express lanes for future rail transit or bus rapid transit, and a 12-foot shared-use path.
Once the new bridge is completed, the existing northbound bridge will be taken down.