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Sunshine Skyway Bridge

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Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is the world's longest cable-stayed concrete bridge, with a length of 29,040 feet (exactly 5.5 miles or nearly 9 km). It is part of I-275 (SR 93) and US 19 (SR 55), connecting St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, Florida and Palmetto in Manatee County, Florida, passing through Hillsborough County. Construction of the current bridge began in 1982 and was completed in 1987, at a cost of $245 million.

It is constructed of steel and concrete. Its longest span is 1200 feet (366 m), which is 190 feet (58 m) over the water. Twenty-one steel cables clad in nine-inch steel tubes along the center line of the bridge support the structure. It was designed by the Figg & Muller Engineering Group.


The bridge at twilight
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The bridge at twilight

Bridge disaster

The present bridge replaces a steel cantilever bridge of the same name. The original two-lane bridge was completed in 1954, with a similar structure built parallel to it in 1971 to make it a four-lane bridge and bring it to Interstate Highway standards. The southbound span was destroyed on May 9, 1980 when during a storm the freighter SS Summit Venture hit a pier and knocked over 1200 feet (366m) of the bridge into Tampa Bay. The collision caused several automobiles and a Greyhound bus to plunge 150 feet, killing 35 people.

The old bridge replaced a ferry from Point Pinellas to Piney Point. US 19 was extended from St. Petersburg to its current end north of Palmetto when the bridge opened.

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