After seven years of sitting idle and continuing to decay, the days for the Friendship Trail Bridge are finally numbered.
Work to dismantle the 59-year-old structure is underway. On Wednesday, workers started dismantling some of the handrails and light posts along the bridge.
The former westbound Gandy Bridge was closed to traffic in 1999 and converted into a recreational trail until 2008.
"We had multiple engineers do studies and evaluations that determined it was unsafe to the public," said Hillsborough County Public Works official Jim Hudock. "And it's continued to deteriorate since the bridge was closed to pedestrian traffic."
Despite the grassroots movement to save the bridge from the wrecking ball back in 2012, the protests only delayed the inevitable.
"They'll cut sections into small manageable pieces and then the load those pieces on the barges," Hudock said. "And then those pieces will be hauled to an off-site disposal site where they'll be used for recycling."
The demolition is expected to cost the county more than $9 million. It should be complete by October 2016.