35,000 drivers pass over it every day. But starting this morning, the 85-year-old Platt Street Bridge will shut down for 105 days to undergo major upgrades. Parts of the drawbridge that connects South Tampa and downtown business will be replaced as part of a three-phase, $13.8 million project.
The construction will allow the bridge to be upgraded to current standards, but it leaves some commuters with last-minute decisions.
“I use this bridge on a daily basis,” driver Lenny Carabella says. “I’m definitely going to have to leave earlier because I have to show up for work on time, especially in these times.”
Down the street from the bridge, Hattrick’s is packed with sports fans who are focused intently on dozens of television screens. But come Monday Night Football, manager James Bronte doesn’t know what the crowd will look like.
“I do get a lot of business from people who live in the South Tampa area, so whether or not they’re aware of it or are ready to make the adjustment, we’ll find out,” Bronte says.
City officials have recommended several alternate routes, among them Kennedy Boulevard, the Cass Street Bridge, and the Selmon Expressway. But one test for even those routes may come next weekend, when Red Bull Flugtag comes to downtown Tampa. When the flying competition came to Tampa Bay in 2008, more than 110,000 spectators showed up.