William Howard Frankland - The Man and the Bridge

He didn't design it.  He didn't build it.  He didn't pay for it. 
But he proposed it and he made it possible for it to be built.
So it was named it for him.




At the age of 8, Howard Frankland's first job  was painting pinstripes on buggies in his father's carriage shop in Jackson, Tennessee.   By 1958, at the age of 56, he was president of Florida's oldest bank--the First National Bank of Tampa.

Howard Frankland's Parents

William Howard Frankland was the third of five sons of Frank Mortimer Frankland and Bertha F. Vosburg.  Frank M. Frankland was a traveling salesman in Chicago where he and Bertha married on Nov. 30, 1892.  The Franklands lived in Chicago until 1900 or 1901 and had 2 children there:  Leonard Earl Frankland in 1894 and Walter Leslie Frankland in 1896. 


1900 Federal Census of Chicago, Cook County, Illinois
Frank Frankland, b. Sep. 1868 in Canada, 31 years old, married for 7 years.  His father was from England and his mother was from Canada.  He came to the U.S. in 1891, had been here for 9 years, and was a naturalized U.S. citizen; occupation: traveling salesman.  Bertha, wife, b. Feb. 1869, age 31, married 7 years, mother of 2 children, 2 living, born in Michigan, her father was from Germany and mother from New York.  Son Leonard, born Jan. 1894, age 6, born Illinois.  Son Walter, born April 1896, age 4, born Illinois.  Frank had a very young sister living in his household--Viola, born May 1893, age 7.  Nativity of her parents matches that of Frank's.


The Franklands in Jackson, Tennessee


Some time in late 1900 to mid 1901, the Franklands moved from Chicago to Jackson, Tennessee, where they had 3 more sons:  William Howard on Nov. 26, 1901, Robert Ernest in 1904, and Frank Mortimer Jr. in 1910. 


In 1903 in Jackson, Tennessee, Frank Sr. founded the Frankland Carriage Company, manufacturers of fine carriages.



Frankland Carriage Co. ad in the Jackson City Directory, 1906

In the 1920s, Frankland Carriage Company became "Franklands" as the horseless carriage was becoming obsolete.  They concentrated on selling tires and auto parts, and later sold furniture at their downtown location.

By the 1940s, sons Leonard, Walter and Robert Earnest would all hold executive positions at Frankland's.

1947 Jackson City, Tenn. City directory:









1910 Census


The 1910 census shows Howard was 8 years old.  Leonard worked as a laborer at his father's carriage manufacturing company,
and Viola, Frank's sister, worked there as a bookkeeper.

1920 Census


The 1920 census shows Leonard and Walter were both machinists at the carriage factory.


Goodyear Industrial University, hall & clubhouse, Akron, Ohio circa 1921.  Photo courtesy of Akron Digital Collection



After Howard graduated from high school in Jackson, he was sent by his father to study the tire business at a school maintained by the B. F. Goodrich Company** in Akron, Ohio.  When he completed the special training, he was placed in charge of the tire department at the Frankland Carriage Company in Jackson, Tenn., and made vice president of that company. 


**Karl Grismer's History of Tampa says Goodrich, but there was no school maintained by B. F. Goodrich in these times.  There was a large Goodrich plant in Akron, but not a school.   Instead, Howard must have attended the Goodyear Industrial University in Akron. 


See article about the university in May 10, 1920 "The Rubber Age and Tire News."  When the image opens, click it again to see it full size.
Page 1    Page 2    Page 3




On November 17, 1921, Howard married Jackson City, Tenn. native Winifred "Freddie" Perry (b. Mar. 2, 1902) in Jackson City.  Winifred was a daughter of Tennessee natives Jarrett A. Perry (a railroad engineer) and Winifred Bond.


Howard Frankland in Tampa

Pioneer Filing Station ad in 1925 showing previous ownership of Pioneer Filling Station,  Tampa city directory


W. Howard Frankland came to Tampa in 1925, during the real estate boom.  Swampland was selling for $1,000 a square foot; unsuspecting customers bought pieces of bay front flatlands for home sites.  A penny was a dollar--on paper, that is.  But not for the young businessman from Jackson, Tennessee.  There were no get-rich-quick schemes for him. 

Instead, he bought a filling station from D.F. Owen, W.C. McFadden and Robert Ryder;  "The Pioneer," located near Grand Central and Boulevard.  People would always have to buy gasoline and tires.









Frankland's Pioneer filling station at 817 Grand Central, corner of North Boulevard, 1927
Burgert Brothers photo courtesy of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System


Advertising heavily and keeping his station open day and night, Frankland played it safe--and brought in customers. He bought the property between the station and North Blvd. and expanded the station all the way to the corner.  The boom burst in 1926 and Frankland bought from D.F. Owen, W.C. McFadden and Robert Ryder, the branch location of The Pioneer around the corner at 109 North Blvd.   


In 1927, Howard and wife Winifred had a son in Tampa; Robert Perry Frankland.  Perry married Sarah Jane Harris in 1950; he and Sarah were the parents of Winifred, Jennifer, and W. Howard Frankland II.   After his divorce from Sarah, Perry married Evelyn Rebecca Law in 1979.  Perry died in Tampa on April 26, 1987.  See Rubber Products, Inc. and Frankland Enterprises below.


Pioneer Tire Company, Downtown Tampa


When the market crashed in 1929, Frankland was progressing, not regressing.  He sold the 109 North Blvd. location to V.L. Boyd and Earl McCullough, who operated it as Pioneer Garage, then Pioneer Automotive Co. for several more years.  Frankland then moved the station to a larger lot across North Blvd. to 901-903 Grand Central Ave.  He also built a block-long filling station and automobile accessory store on one of Tampa's main thoroughfares, Tampa and Whiting streets, operating both stores with the main office downtown. On its roof he built a tower, then unheard of, but which has since become a symbol for filling stations.  He lighted up the front like a Hollywood premiere.    He later acquired the entire block on Tampa Street, as well as two-thirds of the block in back of the Tampa Street location, and were he operated the Pioneer Tire Company, Inc., main store with a yearly volume of well over one million dollars by 1950.

Pioneer Tire Company at 100 Tampa Street, corner of Whiting, 1928
Burgert Brothers photo courtesy of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System


The map at left shows the intersection of Grand Central Ave. (now Kennedy Blvd.) and North Blvd.  The map is from 1915 and the 1920s locations of the Pioneer stations have been added.


See the table below which shows Tampa City directory listings for The Pioneer locations and owners.














Tampa City Directory Listings



Business Locations


Home Address















































Howard's 1926 listing shows that he worked as a clerk and lived at 829 S. Oregon Ave.  After that, Howard and his family lived at 212 S. Matanzas Ave at least until at least 1940, where he, his wife, and son Perry are listed on the 1940 census.  By 1945, they had moved to Odessa where they are listed on the 1945 census on Rt. 1.


Frankland  gave away a 1929 Ford sedan and 1,500 other items as door prizes on opening day.  And, as always, he advertised heavily in newspapers.  He knew there would always be sales for gasoline, tires and other automotive necessities, and he had the courage of his convictions.

Pioneer  Tire Co. station at Tampa St. and Whiting, circa 1929. 
Robertson & Fresh photo courtesy of University of South Florida Digital Collection.



Publicity stunt on the roof of Pioneer Tire and Service Station, Tampa and Whiting Streets, 1929
Notice the chair placed atop the spire on the tower.  Burgert Brothers photo courtesy of University of South Florida Digital Collection.



Pioneer Tire Co, 1934
Photo courtesy of the Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa Hillsbrough Co. Public Library




Frank Frankland, Jr. joins Howard in Tampa


Pioneer Tire Co. ad in 1936 city directory

In 1930, Howard's younger brother, Frank Frankland, Jr., joined him in the business and became the manager of the Grand Central & North Blvd. station.  William was the company's president, and along with Charles Batchelor as sec./treas., maintained the office and main station downtown at 100 Tampa St. at Whiting.  Together, Howard and Frank built the Pioneer Tire Company empire.









During the depression which followed the crash, sending the country's financial structure into an upheaval, Howard studied.  He learned everything there was to know about rubber.

Howard went to the country's tire manufacturers to learn more about rubber.  He was particularly interested in the process of reclaiming rubber.  Before the depression was over, General Tires hired him to design and build a pilot plant in Tampa. 




William Howard Frankland the Inventor


Knife Sharpener - 1922
William was 21 years old when he was awarded this device patent in Jackson City, Tennessee.  Image courtesy of Google.com Patents

Oil Burner - 1938
In particular, oil burners installed in radiant heaters of a type used in heating small homes and apartments. Image courtesy of Google.com Patents

Heating and Ventilating System - 1940
An object of the present invention is to provide a simple and inexpensive construction to render a dwelling more uniformly comfortable throughout, by providing a more uniform ventilation of the house in summer and a more uniform heating of the house in the winter. Image courtesy of Google.com Patents



Vaporizing Forced Draft Oil Burner, 1952
Relates to pot-type oil burners and more particularly to oil burners of the" forced draft rare-vaporizing variety.  Image courtesy of Google.com Patents

Method For Recycling Rubber And Recycled Rubber Product, 1980
Curing with sulfur and zinc stearate - A unique method for recycling rubber scrap to yield a final product of at least about one inch in thickness characterized by the absence of the use of alkalis, acids or organic solvents in the steps of the process Frankland received this patent 11 months before he died.
See the entire process at Google.com Patents



World War II Era


Howard went into the business of recapping and retreading tires with the foresight of a man who could see ahead and realize that rubber and tires would someday be scarce.  World War II proved him right. 


As the war continued, it became apparent there would be a staggering shortage of rubber.  For the next few years, the two brothers continued to expand their business in the changing markets of WWII.  Howard began thinking of ways to make use of the precious waste-rubber dust that accumulated around the new Kraft-Neilson buffing and tire-recapping machine.

Kraft system buffing and recapping machines at General Tire, Tampa, 1946
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library









A worker recapping a tire at the General Tire recapping plant, Tampa, 1946.


Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library



The Rubber Ball Factory


Howard experimented with many different processes until he finally achieved success. By combining the rubber dust with cork, he could vulcanize the composition into rubber balls.   In 1946, Howard and Frank began producing rubber balls and other rubber products under the name Hofran (from Howard Frankland) in a factory on Habana Avenue, manufacturing nearly 7,000 balls per day.  The successful brothers later organized Rubber Products, Inc.  and sold their rubber ball factory to AMF and Voit. 


Location of Frankland's Hofran rubber ball factory, West Tampa


Andres Diaz cigar factory, 1909

3102 N. Habana Ave, corner of Kathleen St. , 1996

The Andres Diaz & Co. cigar factory, built this cigar factory in 1908 and remained here until 1925.  The building was then was occupied by the Francisco Arango Company briefly in 1935.   The Tampa Cigar Company was the next firm to settle here, and they remained in business here from 1936 to 1943. The building was then used by Hofran, Inc., who in turn sold the property to the AMF Voit company who used it into the 1980s. The building was then purchased by Image Advertising and converted into office space in the 1990s. The Church of Scientology then purchased the building, renovated it, and turned it into their new Tampa home in 2003.


Building history and 1996 photo from Tampa's Historic Cigar Factories: Making a Case for Preservation

Frankland in Cuba


Meanwhile, on a trip to Cuba, Howard noticed that the country was hit even harder than the United States in the availability of tires.  So he opened a branch business in Havana--the Servicio de Gomas Pioneer, S.A.  But Cuban bus operators, truck fleet owners and motorists were skeptical and didn't buy.  So Frankland bought their old worn out tires, recapped them, and rented them back to the original owners at a cost per kilometer.  The Cubans had nothing to lose, so they rented shiny, newly retreaded tires from Señor Frankland, and Servicio de Gomas Pioneer, S.A. boomed.  Servicio was the first tire recapping company in Cuba.  Up until almost 1950, Frankland was also the Lincoln-Mercury dealer for the island of Cuba.  See tire recapping in Cuba today.


Passenger record of Howard Frankland returning to Key West from Havana Cuba, on the S.S. Cuba, March 24, 1939.


1950 Gasparilla Goes Latin


The 1950 Gasparilla festivities were the greatest in the city of Tampa's history. The Tribune’s headlines read, "Gasparilla Goes Latin." The Cuban government sent the frigate José Martí, fifty conga dancers, seventy newsmen, the Havana Carnival Queen and her court, and hundreds of Cuban visitors. This was one of the most colorful and festive events in Gasparilla’s history. A few months later the king of Gasparilla, Howard Frankland, and Queen Mary Dupre and her court received an invitation to participate in Havana Carnival. The interchange between Tampa and Cuba was at its peak.  (Tampa Bay History Magazine Spring/Summer 1994, Vol. 16, No.1)


Gasparilla King XXXVII, W. Howard Frankland and Queen Mary DuPree posed with their court
Photo courtesy of the Burgert Brothers collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library


Rubber Products, Inc., and Frankland Enterprises


The Frankland's new rubber reclaiming process became a stepping stone to a patent and another unique business opportunity. In 1957,  Rubber Products, Inc. began to produce personalized rubber mats. 


In 1958,  Howard's son, Perry, was brought in to manage the newest product, a unique type of color-flecked floor tile called Tuflex. "Don't worry, it's Tuflex" became the headline in ads placed in sports magazines across the country. This new rubber floor became an instant hit, with brisk sales in country clubs, ice rinks and gyms. The revolutionary flooring bounced back from golf spike traffic while protecting the cleats from wear. Sales quickly expanded with new uses. 


At the Rubber Products' factory at 4521 W. Crest Avenue, rubber flooring was the mainstay, but over the years specialty items came and went. The company manufactured bridge pads, offset blocks, rubber molds for railroad ties, "100-plus" carpet underlayment, baseball bases, parking lot bumpers, a "Travel-Tee" designed to give golfers a portable surface to hit golf balls and a "Drain Gun" to unclog sinks, tubs and toilets.


In the early years of production, all rubber tile color patterns made by Tuflex were named, not numbered. Names over the years included: Terrazzo, Chiptone, Softone, Unitone, Stardust, Snowflake, Pelletone, Sunset, Pebble, Misty, Country Club Green, Theatre Red and Reversible.


The success continued when the company, lead by Perry's son, Howard II, and Frank's son, Fred, expanded the business into an international sales and manufacturing powerhouse. Today, Fred leads Tuflex Rubber Products into its fifth decade of success. The company has expanded globally into more than forty foreign countries and has developed the use of the flooring in a wide range of applications.


Tuflex is one of the most popular floors in athletic facilities in the nation. It's the sports floor for many football, basketball, hockey, and baseball teams including dozens of professional franchises in the NFL, NHL, NBA,  MBA and WNBA.   Tuflex, America's flooring leader since 1957





Oct. 7, 1968 St. Pete Times


Frankland and the First National Bank


Howard Frankland's office as president of the First National Bank, 1958
Photo courtesy of the Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library

In the late 1950s, Frankland was president and later vice-chairman of the board of the First National Bank of Tampa.  In 1970, Frankland was the building committee chairman when bank president E. P. Taliaferro, Jr. announced plans to build the state's tallest building; the bank's new home in downtown Tampa at 111 Madison St.  See April 10, 1970 St. Pete Times article. 


On Dec. 3, 1973, fireworks marked the celebration of the new 36-story First Financial Tower with W. Howard Frankland presiding at the dedication ceremony.  See St. Pete Times article.
















At the time Frankland was bank president in the late 1950s, his office was in this building seen here shortly after its completion in the 1920s at Franklin and Madison Streets.  Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library.

April 10, 1970 St. Pete Times

The old First National bank building built in 1926 is seen here in 1986, with its replacement seen to the right.  In 1993, this beautiful old building, as well as Curtis Hixon Hall and the Tampa Gas Co. building, bit the dust.



Construction of the First National Bank "First Financial Tower" as seen at night from the Kennedy Blvd. bridge, 1972.  Photo courtesy of University of Tampa 1972 yearbook "Moroccan."




The First Financial Tower, 1978, later known as the First Florida Tower and more recently, the Lykes Building, and now the Park Tower.  Photo from 1978 HCC "Satori."


Frankland was also president of Davis Islands, Inc., and Crestview Realty Company, which owned several large office buildings in the city, and Hofran, Inc., which manufactured the "Hofran" line of baseballs and softballs which had national distribution and were some of the many products developed by Mr. Frankland's inventive ability. 


Mr. Frankland served as president of the Tampa Rotary Club, Tampa Chamber of Commerce, Tampa Merchants' Association, Presidents' Round Table, and numerous other organizations.  He was also president of the and first lieutenant of the Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla and a member of the Elks Club.


Howard Frankland and MacDill AFB

Airmen on parade at MacDill AFB dedication, 1941
Burgert Bros. photo courtesy of the Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library



The early years Frankland spent in Tampa were not all devoted to his own interests.  He was one of the prime movers as president of the Chamber of Commerce in getting MacDill Air Force Base to Tampa. 


On July 14, 1939, the momentous announcement was made that Gen. Thomas Handy, who had been conferring with a Tampa committee for weeks, had decided that the base should be located in Tampa at the lower end of Interbay Peninsula, known as Catfish Point.  At that time, the base was to be named Southeast Air Base.  Members of the committee which had succeeded in getting the base for Tampa were: W. Howard Frankland, Frank Gannon, George Howell, Ambler Liggett, Joseph Sweeney, E. P. Taliaferro, M. M. Frost, Pat Whitaker, Leslie Blank, A. B. McMullen, Howell Lykes, Jerome Waterman, D. Hoyt Woodbery, Robert Clinton, Francis Judd, G. Dave Curtis, T. N. Henderson and Henry Tillman.


See history of MacDill Airfield and Leslie MacDill at TampaPix.com



Frankland led numerous charitable fund drives; was president of the University Club, Palma Ceia Golf Club, Florida State Fair, and a dozen other service and civic organizations including the Boys' Clubs, Merchant's Association, Hillsborough County Taxpayers Association, and has been King of Gasparilla.  He was also an ardent church worker.


With respect to the State of Florida, Frankland served on the State Road Board under Governor McCarty, was vice chairman of the Florida State Turnpike Authority, and was instrumental in bringing better highways into the Tampa area.


He won many awards, but was particularly fond of the 1956 Civitan Award as Tampa's Outstanding Citizen.  Mr. Frankland was a lover of flowers and his home was located on a large tract of land with many flower gardens.  His special hobby was growing azaleas and camelia.  His home is one of the outstanding residences  in the Golfview neighborhood in south Tampa, where Frankland Road is named for him.


William Howard Frankland died in Tampa on Dec. 17, 1980.


The Bridge

Photo courtesy of Florida Future Farmers, Winter 1961 issue, University of Florida Digital Collections


In the mid-1950s, William Howard Frankland proposed that a bridge was needed to connect Tampa to central Pinellas County.   He insisted that the land between the Gandy Bridge and Courtney Campbell Parkway were ripe for development and would be the perfect place to build a bridge.


As a member of the Florida Road Board, he worked hard to enable the bridge to be built.





In 1956, the second span of the Gandy Bridge had opened for the purpose of carrying westbound traffic. The Gandy was the first bridge across Old Tampa Bay when the original 2-lane span opened in 1924.   A few years after the Gandy Bridge opened, sometime in 1927 the Ben T. Davis Causeway (later renamed the Courtney Campbell Causeway) was the second crossing over Old Tampa Bay connecting Tampa with Clearwater.  Frankland's new bridge would serve as the basis of the extension of what used to be initially Interstate 4.


Read about George Gandy and his bridge at TampaPix.com








Dredging on the Howard Frankland causeway at the Tampa end, looking east, 1958.



Photo courtesy of the Burgert Bros. collection at the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library.





















Howard Frankland bridge construction photos
At the time, the bridge had not been named, so photos refer to the "Third Bay Bridge."


1957 - Pilings in place.
Photo courtesy of Airflite Aerial Photographers/Graber aerial photographs at University of South Florida Digital Collection


Piling and pile driving rig at Third Bay Bridge, Jan. 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103934

Inspections boat and bridge pilings, Jan. 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103968

Progress on pile driving, frame and rigs on pile build-ups, Jan. 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103965

Progress showing pile cut-off Bent 33-E, Jan. 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/104611

1958 -  Photo courtesy of Airflite Aerial Photographers/Graber aerial photographs at University of South Florida Digital Collection



Progress showing Pile Driving Rig #4 at Pier 11-W, Jan. 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103967

Hardaway Contracting Company casting and pre-stressing yard where piling, girders etc. are being fabricated for Third Bay Bridge.  Jan. 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/104617

Hardaway Contracting Company casting and pre-stressing yard where piling, girders etc. are being fabricated for Third Bay Bridge.  Jan. 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/104615

Mixer rig and supply barge, May 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/104612

Progress showing girders and caps, approach to "the hump" May 1958

Progress showing girders and caps, Bents 80-E to 84-E, May 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103932

Progress showing Mixer Rig #7 pouring decks, May 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/104629

Progress showing forms being set on Bent 2-E, May 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103935

1958 -  Photo courtesy of Airflite Aerial Photographers/Graber aerial photographs at University of South Florida Digital Collection



Progress showing forms set on north decks 6,7, and 8, May 1958.
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/104631

Continuous pour of south decks numbers 6,7, & 8, May 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103964

1958 Construction on "the hump"
Photo courtesy of Airflite Aerial Photographers/Graber aerial photographs at University of South Florida Digital Collection


Looking west from bent 24 showing poured decks in place, May 1958
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103966

Section 15190-3403 Interstate 4 Pinellas County West approach to Third Bay Bridge Showing a portion of the completed west approach to Howard Frankland Bridge. 6/15/60.  State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/38477

1959 Photo courtesy of Airflite Aerial Photographers/Graber aerial photographs at University of South Florida Digital Collection

1959 Photo courtesy of Airflite Aerial Photographers/Graber aerial photographs at University of South Florida Digital Collection


Bridge Opening Ceremonies


When the Howard Frankland Bridge opened, the WTVT Big 13 mobile unit was the first vehicle to cross it. Governor Leroy Collins, who came down to dedicate it,  was in a Cadillac convertible sitting in the back seat with Joe Loughlin. Big 13's Crawford Rice was in the truck sitting on a bench looking out the back window.  They had a camera on the roof pointing at Joe and the Governor, getting shots of the bridge and the boat flotilla. Then Joe interviewed the Governor. WTVT taped it in the truck and then took it back to the station where they used some clips for the news, and made a half-hour prime-time program out of it.


Photo and story courtesy of Mike Clark's WTVT Big 13 "A conversation with Crawford Rice."




The Howard Frankland Bridge was built  utilizing a low level trestle with a high clearance at the midway point of the bridge (which is commonly known as "the hump") plus dredged causeways on both the St. Petersburg and Tampa sides.

Though built as part of the Interstate 4 system, it was the only section of the interstate in the area, there were no interstate highway connections at either end when it was completed.  Interchanges at Kennedy Boulevard on the Tampa side of the bridge and at 4th Street North and Ulmerton Road on the St. Petersburg side were constructed, as well as bridges on the 4th Street North crossing Big Island Gap.

W. Howard Frankland Bridge Dedication Program, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Clearwater - 15 January 1960

  • Flag Raising: Color Guard, MacDill Air Force Base

  • National Anthem: Clearwater High School Band

  • Invocation: Reverend Carl A. Driscoll, Pastor, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd

  • Introduction of Guests: Chairman

  • Presentation of Bridge: D. M. Plyer, Vice President, Hardaway Construction

  • Contracting Company Acceptance of Bridge: Joe Grotegut, Chairman, State Road Board

  • Presentation of Plaque to the Honorable Albert L. Rogero: Alfred Schelm, President, St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce

  • Christening of Bridge: Mrs. W. Howard Frankland

  • Address: Honorable LeRoy Collins, Governor, State of Florida

  • Cutting of Ribbon: (Howard's grandchildren) Winifred Frankland, age 8; Jennifer Frankland, age 6; W. Howard Frankland II, age 2½

  • Crossing of Bridge: Distinguished Guests

  • Music: Clearwater High School Band


Read more about the Jan 16, 1960 opening ceremony


Facts about the W. Howard Frankland Bridge

  • Date construction started: June 1957

  • Date completed: August 1959

  • Total cost: $6,528,813.04*

  • Overall length of bridge: 15,872 feet

  • Overall length of approaches: Over 1 1 miles, including approaches and traffic distributors

  • Type of construction: 348 spans consisting of reinforced concrete deck slab on pre-stressed concrete girders supported on concrete piers and steel H-piles

  • Concrete handrail : 31,600 lineal feet

  • Quantities of materials used: Pounds of steel used: 1 5,000,000

  • Cubic yards of concrete used: 84,000

  • 221,460 lineal feet of 24" square pre-stressed concrete piling

  • 2,720 lineal feet of 14" steel H-piles

  • 7,995 lineal feet of creosoted wood piles

  • 22,656 thousand board feet of creosoted timber

  • 15,000,000 pounds of reinforcing steel in all items


  • Main bridge: Hardaway Contracting Company, Columbus, GA

  • Pinellas County approaches: Brinson-Allen Construction Company, Tampa, FL

  • Hillsborough County approaches: W. H. Armston Co., Inc., Dunedin, FL

*The cost of bridge including approaches was $16 million.

Connection to the Interstate System


In 1963, Interstate 4 was completed from the Tampa end of the Howard Frankland bridge to Armenia Avenue.  It was still incomplete from Armenia to east of downtown where at 22nd Street in Ybor City it was complete to Orlando.  By 1965, I-4 was complete from Orlando to the Howard Frankland bridge.  In 1967, Interstate 75 (today's 275) was extended from north of downtown through the new downtown interchange ("Malfunction Junction") to I-4.   But even up to 1973, the interstate had not yet made its way south of 38th St. North in St. Pete, to the Skyway bridge.


Construction of the I-75 / I-4 interchange north of downtown Tampa, May 6, 1963 - Looking northwest, Nebraska Ave. on the right, I-4 corridor from Orlando at lower right, to downtown at lower left.  I-75 from the north at upper right. Original George Washington Jr. High on Columbus Drive just right of center.  State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103958

I-75 / I-4 Interchange "Malfunction Junction" circa 1965
I-75 at lower right, I-4 from Orlando to Howard Frankland bridge from left to upper right.  State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/35761


Howard Frankland bridge causeway approach, 1965
Photo courtesy of cootsimagery, eBay

Howard Frankland bridge, 1967
Photo courtesy of cootsimagery, eBay

The Car-Strangled Spanner


Over the years the Howard Frankland Bridge had earned some distinctive nicknames such as the Howard Frankenstein, How Weird Frankland and the Car Strangled Banner due to the volume of accidents that have occurred and the resulting traffic backups on the four-lane span.  One state highway official called it a "death trap" after it opened it 1960. Others said no one would use the $6.5-million bridge.  For a period of time, changing lanes wasn’t even allowed on the old bridge in an effort to reduce accidents.


The bridge had only a low center median concrete divider which created a dangerous situation with oncoming traffic on such a narrow span. The head-on collisions were so numerous that a raised concrete wall divider (called a Jersey Barrier) was needed. 

The above photo taken 1960-1962 by St. Pete Times photographer Jack Ramsdell also shows why the bridge was nicknamed "Howard Frankenstein."  It was a reference to the horrific nightmarish head-on collisions due to lack of a center median safety wall.


In 1962, the steel-reinforced tapered concrete barrier was installed "to prevent cars from hurtling the median and crashing into oncoming traffic." Ten people had already died. The bridge was the subject of a 60 Minutes broadcast in the 1960s noting the below-average construction methods used.

Looking east on the Howard Frankland Bridge towards Tampa, circa late 1960s.  Notice the West Tampa water tank with checkered pattern at upper left.  Photo courtesy of OldRide.com





Approach to the bridge from the Tampa side, circa 1970
State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/103941



This 1985 photo shows the reinforced concrete divider separating the north and southbound lanes, and the overhead crossbars that supported the traffic lane warning signals.  Photo from eBay

Bypass system


In the 1970’s a stalled vehicle warning system was installed that consisted of a series of push buttons along the length of the center section; when a button was pressed motorists were notified by the flashing sign “stalled vehicle” just before entering the center section. Whenever there would be a major delay at the Howard Frankland Bridge, special signs would alert drivers to the delay and direct them to utilize the bypass, which ran along SR 694, to the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway, Willow Avenue, Howard Avenue, and ending at Interstate 275. Special shields (marked N and S) along the route made sure that drivers were using the correct thoroughfare.

This was later replaced by a more sophisticated accident warning system utilizing overhead lane signals on the bridge and variable message signs at the approaches to the bridge. These variable message signs would have their normal messages but in the event of an accident or other incident that closes the bridge for any reason the messages would be changed by remote radio signal link to advise motorists to follow specially designated signs (these signs were an interstate shield with the legend N or S) that would take one across the Gandy Bridge to avoid the resulting congestion as a result of a temporary closure.



A Second Span


With the increased traffic plus the high rate of accidents and the bridge being four lanes with no emergency lane, a second span of the Howard Frankland Bridge was justified.  Planning for a larger-capacity replacement began in 1978. Original plans ranged from a large, multi-lane suspension (or similar type) bridge, to two parallel bridges (with the central span reserved for HOV lanes). As traffic projections increased, further exacerbated by a disaster on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in 1980, it was clear that the new bridge would need to handle at least eight lanes (four in each direction). By 1987, it was concluded that a parallel, four lane span would be built. Plans were also made to rehabilitate the older bridge after the new bridge opened.





Construction began on the new span in 1988. The new $54 million southbound span was opened to traffic in 1991. The older bridge was then closed, the Jersey barrier median removed, rehabilitated, and reopened in 1992. However, this did not increase capacity on either end of the bridge. Backups were still seen on the Howard Frankland heading into Tampa, primarily due to a bottleneck at the SR 60/Veterans Expressway exit. On the St. Petersburg side, after a comprehensive reconstruction project that took over ten years, lane counts were increased from four lanes prior to the bridge to six lanes through downtown St. Petersburg, and eight lanes from Gandy Boulevard to the bridge.


Howard Frankland double-span bridge, looking west from Tampa side.  The new 1991 southbound span is on the right. 
Photo courtesy of Data Jembatan



The old 1960 northbound span on the left; the new 1991 southbound span is on the right.
Photo courtesy of New Tampa Magazine "Tampa Bay's Most Iconic Bridges."



The older, 1960 northbound span is shorter and has a steeper hump than the newer 1992 southbound span.  There was no longer a need for the variable message warning system now that the bridge is eight lanes, four lanes for northbound and four lanes for southbound.

Tampa Bay Times "Pinellas transportation projects to cost about $700 million" photo by Skip O'Rourke


A reconstruction project was planned to begin in 2007 for I-275 between the Howard Frankland and downtown Tampa. However, due to rising cost of materials, FDOT planned to reconstruct the interstate in smaller phases rather than the original larger two-phase project. The project was supposed to be finished by 2013, but continues on even to this day in Sept. 2014.


Even now with the I-275 reconstruction through West Tampa and the Westshore District muddling along, talks of replacing the entire Howard Frankland northbound bridge are in the making.





Akron Digital Collection
Burgert Brothers photo collection at the Tampa Hillsborough County Public Library
Evening Independent: Franklands to play key role in bridge opening, Jan . 15, 1960

Evening Independent, Jan 15, 1960 editorial 

Florida Future Farmers, Winter 1961 Issue, Editorial by First National Bank president W. Howard Frankland

Go For A Ride Magazine: The Bridges of Tampa Bay - Posted in V4i9 September 2010
Grismer, Karl:  "Tampa: A history of the city of Tampa and the Tampa Bay region of Florida

Howard Frankland Bridge replacement in works By Ted Jackovic, Tampa Tribune, May 10, 2013
Howard Frankland bridge at absoluteastronomy.com

Images of America, Madison County, Tennessee
Interstate275Florida.com: Howard Frankland bridge

Interstate 275 Florida Blog

Interstate-guide.com  I-4     I-75

Mike Clark's Big13 - A conversation with Crawford Rice

New Tampa Magazine "Tampa Bay's Most Iconic Bridges"

Palm Beach Post, Mar. 2, 1958 by Ash Wing, "No Get-Rich-Quick Schemes for Him"
St. Petersburg Times: frankland Bridge Opens To Traffic, Jan 16, 1960

State Archives Florida Memory photo collection

State Archives of Florida Online Catalog
University of South Florida Digital Collections



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