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General Information

Other name(s): Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Beginning of works: 7 February 1982
Completion: 20 April 1987
Status: in use

Project Type

Awards and Distinctions

1988 Award of Merit  


Location: , , ,
, , ,
  • Tampa Bay
Replaces: Sunshine Skyway (1971)
Coordinates: 27° 35' 32.90" N    82° 37' 47.83" W
Coordinates: 27° 38' 27.10" N    82° 40' 13.29" W
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Technical Information


total length 8 851 m
main bridge
main span 366.75 m
total length 1219.60 m
span lengths 42.70 m - 3 x 73.20 m - 164.60 m - 366.75 m - 164.60 - 3 x 73.20 m - 42.70 m
number of spans 8
deck deck depth 4.30 m
deck width 28.95 m
weight of precast segments 160 t (200 t)
length of precast segments 3.60 m
pylons pylon height (above deck) 73.50 m
pylon width (longitudinal direction) 7.00 - 4.30 m
pylon width (transverse direction) 3.30 m
number 2
stay cables strands per cable 38 - 80


cost of construction United States dollar 244 000 000


deck precast concrete
precast prestressed concrete
piers reinforced concrete
pylons reinforced concrete
deck of approach viaducts precast prestressed concrete
abutments reinforced concrete

Excerpt from Wikipedia

The Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge, often referred to as the Sunshine Skyway Bridge or simply the Skyway, is a cable-stayed bridge spanning the Lower Tampa Bay connecting St. Petersburg, Florida to Terra Ceia. The current Sunshine Skyway opened in 1987 and is the second bridge of that name on the site. It was designed by the Figg & Muller Engineering Group and built by the American Bridge Company and is considered a symbol of Florida.

The four-lane bridge carries Interstate 275 and U.S. Route 19, passing through Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, and Manatee County. It is a toll road, with a $1.50 toll assessed on two-axle vehicles traveling in either direction and collected via cash or the state's SunPass system.

The original bridge opened in 1954 and was the site of two major maritime disasters within a few months in 1980. In January 1980, the United States Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn collided with the tanker Capricorn near the bridge, resulting in the sinking of the cutter and the loss of 23 crew members. In May 1980, the freighter MV Summit Venture collided with a bridge support during a sudden squall, resulting in the structural collapse of the southbound span and the deaths of 35 people when vehicles plunged into Tampa Bay. Within a few years, the damaged span was demolished, the surviving span was partially demolished and converted into a long fishing pier, and the current bridge was built.


Original bridge

The original two-lane bridge was built by the Virginia Bridge Company and opened to traffic on September 6, 1954, with a similar structure built parallel and to the west of it in 1969 to make it a four-lane bridge and bring it to Interstate Highway standards. Opening of the newer span was delayed until 1971 for reinforcing of the south main pier, which had cracked due to insufficient supporting pile depth. The second span was used for all southbound traffic, while the original span was converted to carry northbound traffic.

The old bridge replaced a ferry from Point Pinellas to Piney Point. US 19 was extended from St. Petersburg to ist current end north.

1980 collapse

The collapsed original bridge on May 9, 1980, after the Summit Venture collision. Photo by St. Petersburg Times The current bridge (top) and the old bridges. The piers of the current bridge are protected by structural dolphins. The collapsed bridge is under demolition.



According to compilations from various media reports as of 2009, at least 207 people have committed suicide by jumping from the center span into the waters of Tampa Bay since the opening of the current bridge in 1987 and an estimated 34 others have tried but survived. Another 51 people ended their lives from the old Sunshine Skyway from 1954 to 1987. Several other missing persons are suspected of having jumped from the bridge but their deaths could not be confirmed as no bodies were recovered.

In response to the high number of suicide attempts from the bridge, the state of Florida installed six crisis hotline phones along the center span in 1999, and began 24-hour patrols. As of 2003, the call center at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay received 18 calls from potential jumpers, all of whom survived, according to a 2003 St. Petersburg Times report.

In 2006, a feature film Loren Cass was released, which depicted a suicide jump off the Sunshine Skyway. Two years later, a second filmmaker, Sean Michael Davis of Rhino Productions, was inspired by his haunting experience witnessing a woman jump off the bridge so quickly that no one could intervene, to create a non-for-profit film titled Skyway Down. His objectives: to deter other potential jumpers by " 'punch[ing] them in the face' with interviews with survivors and family members", to give them "hope and to try to de-glorify the romanticism of the bridge", in part by informing those who have "mulled a leap to know about the bloody, battered aftermath."

As part of any Florida controlled-access highway, pedestrians and bicycles are prohibited. Stopping on the bridge for any non-emergency, including sightseeing, is prohibited. Traffic on the bridge is monitored by the Florida Highway Patrol, and a stopped vehicle, bicyclist, or a pedestrian will elicit a police dispatch.


A major problem with the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is corrosion of the steel in the precast concrete segmental columns on the high-level approaches. Because the segments are hollow, workers were able to enter the bridge superstructure in 2003 and 2004 to reinforce the corroded sections of the bridge, ensuring ist future safety. Another problem arose around 2005–06 when several news bureaus reported paint discolorations on the bridge's cables. These paint splotches and patches were a result of touch-ups that were performed over the years but began to show through over recent years. In 2008, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) began an overhaul including repainting the cables in their entirety (instead of touching up) and rehabilitating the lighting system at the summit of the bridge.

Low clearance

A 2014 FDOT study noted that the Skyway's low bridge clearance prevented larger vessels from using the Port Tampa Bay terminals, but made no recommendation about options as the air draft of most new cruise ships exceeds the bridge's height limit at 180 feet (55 m).


Usage and tourism

The former and current bridge have been featured in various forms of media. The original Sunshine Skyway Bridge is featured in Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar and the opening credits to Superboy. The current bridge has provided the setting for several films such as Loren Cass and The Punisher. The bridge also served as plot devices to various novels such as Dennis Lehane's 1997 novel Sacred and Ben Bova's 2005 novel Powersat. The bridge is also the subject of the song "Skyway Avenue" by We the Kings.

United States Postal Service featured the bridge in 2012 on a Priority Mail postage stamp. Carl T. Hermann worked on the painting and the digital illustration was created by artist Dan Cosgrove.

In 2005, an act of the Florida Legislature officially named the current bridge the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge, after the former Governor of Florida and then U.S. Senator who presided over ist design and most of ist construction. According to sources[ which?], he was inspired to suggest the current design by a visit to France, where he saw a similar cable-stayed bridge, the Brotonne Bridge. The original bridge was dedicated to state engineer William E. Dean, as noted on a plaque displayed at the rest area at the south end of the bridge.

Text imported from Wikipedia article "Sunshine Skyway Bridge" and modified on 22 July 2019 under the CC-BY-SA 3.0 license.

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