TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Howard Frankland Bridge has carried countless cars across Tampa Bay since it first opened in the 1960s.
The bridge went through a major change when a new span opened in the 1990s. Now a new bridge is being built at a cost of more than 865 million dollars and the original span is scheduled to be torn down as part of that contract.
Neil Cosontino believes tearing down the old span is a waste and a missed opportunity.
“I think it’s the wrong thing to do. I think we can re-purpose the bridge,” said Cosontino who is a retired USAF fighter pilot and now a member of a small think tank.
He envisions a canopy of power-generating cells being built across the old bridge. The canopy would generate electricity and profit.
“In this case, we are generating money right, we are generating clean energy that money will help pay for the bridge,” said Cosontino.
The Florida Department of Transportation says it would be cost-prohibitive to pay for the upkeep to maintain the old bridge. Cosontino says the state plans to spend 35 million dollars to tear down the old bridge and it’s just money wasted.
“It’s a 60 foot wide, two and half mile long. You know what we can do on that bridge? I mean, there is no end of the type of events and things we can do on the bridge, under the canopy, especially in the heat of the summer,” said Cosontino who has sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg asking him to take a fresh look at the issue.