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MOSI bridge past due, but almost complete

Students and faculty are forced to commute in automobiles or play real-life Frogger to visit the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI), which is just an eyeshot away from Fowler Field. But after much delay, there will be an easier way to cross Fowler Avenue: a pedestrian bridge 20 feet above the road.

More than a year after ground broke to build a pedestrian bridge from Fowler to MOSI, the bridge has yet to be completed. The bridge, which would provide safe passage for anyone crossing to the museum, provides the most benefit to USF students as well as teachers and students at Pizzo Elementary.

Last summer, Tom Mueller, project manager for Hillsborough County’s public works department, told the Oracle he anticipated that the bridge would be open and in use by the end of summer 2006. The construction foreman at that time, Anthony Whitfield, expected the bridge to be open as early as July. As spring 2006 comes to a close, the anticipated date for the bridge’s opening has been slated for late May or early June.

“Originally, the bridge was supposed to be completed in the fall of 2005,” Maize Monroe, project manager for the pedestrian bridge, said. “There were a multitude of issues, including (Department of Transportation) compliance and a multitude of other small issues that we had to deal with.”

According to Tom Fass, section manager for projects management within Hillsborough County Public Works, there were multiple reasons for the delay, most of which dealt with architectural issues.

“Some of the issues we were dealing with were architectural in terms of the finishings and surface treatments,” Fass said. “There were issues with the drainage slopes as well as an issue with electrical service tying in with existing transformers, and we had to do some changes associated with that. We also had to finalize the elevator and elevator placement.”

According to Fass, the bridge cost approximately $2 million to fund. Funds were provided through local agency programs and by the state.

Fass, as well as others, believes the bridge will bring much benefit to both MOSI and USF.

“I think the benefit, primarily, is that you alleviate the potential problems with pedestrians trying to cross the roadway, and the overpass allows them to cross in a safer manner,” Fass said.

With the wealth of knowledge and fun activities available at the museum, the completion of the bridge will assist teachers who want to get their students involved in MOSI during and after school.

“It’s a lot better because a lot of elementary kids like to go to MOSI,” junior Joel Velasquez said. “With the bridge being right there, they don’t need that much supervision to cross safely. It would make after-school programs a lot easier.”

Upon completion, a grand opening ceremony will take place with many of the dignitaries and individuals responsible for the bridge’s construction attending.