Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sunshine Skyway

Here we are, heading south again, over the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

This is the world's longest cable stayed concrete bridge, built in 1987. The cables are painted yellow and lit at night, but right now they are in the middle of a repainting project.

Going up . . .

. . . and down.

This bridge replaced the original 1950s Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which was hit by a freighter during a 1980 storm. A section of the bridge fell into the water, killing 35 people. The new bridge design incorporated features to prevent that from happening again. Still, it's not entirely comforting to look out the window and see parts of the original span that have been turned into fishing piers. Here's the north pier:

On the plus side, the piers are very popular with fishermen.

The bridge is so high because it crosses Tampa Bay, and all the ships (the tankers, the cargo ships, the cruise ships) have to pass underneath to reach the Port of Tampa and Port Manatee. The bridge also connects St. Petersburg and Bradenton/Sarasota, saving an hour or more of drive time around the bay. Before the bridge, there was the Bee Line Ferry. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge (officially named the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge in 2005) is part of Interstate-275, and there is a one dollar toll.

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