An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Rocky Creek Bridge closed, soon to be replaced

Hillsborough County logo

At More Than 100 Years Old, Rocky Creek Bridge is Closed for Replacement

Like a pair of beloved sneakers that become comfortable with wear, eventually they break down, no longer providing the support needed, and must be replaced. Such is the case of a bridge that extends over Rocky Creek along the heavily used Upper Tampa Bay Trail.

Replacement moved up

Construction to replace the old Rocky Creek Bridge was scheduled to start later this year and would have resulted in about a one-year closure. That closure was pushed up recently when a routine inspection by County engineers found the bridge unsafe for continued use, forcing the immediate and unexpected closure. As a result, it will remain closed until full bridge replacement is completed, which is expected in late 2025.

Trail enthusiasts can still access most of the trail from different trailheads. Users can choose between two similar-length trails that were created by the closure. A trail about 4 miles long is open from Old Memorial Highway Trailhead north to the closure, and a trail more than 3 miles long is open from Peterson Road Trailhead south to the closure.

Additionally, Hillsborough County also has several other cycling and hiking trails from which to choose.

Safety first

If you're wondering why the bridge couldn't remain in use while the new one is built, the replacement bridge is planned for the same location as the current one. Even if a shift in the trail alignment was an option, the existing bridge would require extensive repairs to remain in service, based on the latest inspection report. Though from the surface the bridge might look safe, the supporting structure is deteriorated and unsafe. Repairs made in 2016 extended its life, but a full replacement was inevitable, considering the wooden bridge is more than 100 years old.

Documented history tells how the trail came to be. It was transformed from an old rail line, and the bridge was built for the Tarpon Junction spur located at present-day Wilsky Boulevard and Linebaugh Avenue. The best estimates date the original bridge construction to 1913.

Upper Tampa Bay Trail

For more information about the bridge replacement project, updates, and photos, please visit the Upper Tampa Bay Trail page.