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Sunshine Skyway Bridge on Tampa Bay

Dolphin are a common sight at the converted pier

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge pier in Tampa Bay is touted as the longest fishing pier in the world. Formed from what was left of the old bridge when the new one was built, this Florida Pier allows fishermen to park their cars just a few feet away from their favorite fishing spot. The Skyway State Fishing Pier is open 24 hours a day, year-round, and lighted at night so that fishermen can see what their doing; as you may or may not know, lighting up the area after the sun goes down also attracts fish to it after nightfall.

Couple enjoys fishing


Some fish commonly caught from the pier are: cobia, pompano, grouper, black sea bass, red snapper, Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, sheepshead, tarpon, snook and several others. Fishing supplies, bait, tackle, drinks and snacks are available, as well as the ability to obtain a free copy of the latest fishing regulations. There is, however, a small fee to fish or even sight see at the bridge pier. Many people do get the inspiration to just stop to take a few pictures as they cross the bridge; it's a spectacular view. Other activities enjoyed around the pier include kayaking, swimming, wading, kite surfing and other misc water activities. People also come out to watch magnificent sunrises and sunsets. During the day, it is also possible to spot a ray floating through the water or watch a pod of dolphin as they go playing by.

About The Sunshine Skyway Bridge

Sunshine Skyway Bridge

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge spans across Florida's Tampa Bay, with a cable-stayed main span and a length of 29,040 feet; exactly 5.5 miles. Its part of I-275 and US 19, which connects St. Petersburg in Pinellas County and Terra Ceia in Manatee County, and passes through Hillsborough County waters.

The first Sunshine Skyway bridge span opened in 1954; the 15 mile long crossing ran from St. Petersburg to Bradenton and had lengthy approach causeways on both sides, leading to a steep cantilever-truss crossing above the Tampa Bay ship channel. Increasing traffic across the two-lane span spurred the construction of a second parallel span which was completed in 1971, giving the bridges two lanes in each direction.

Construction of the current bridge began in 1982; the new "cable-stay" bridge is truly beautiful and was dedicated on February 7, 1987. The new bridge cost over $240 million to build, and was opened to traffic on April 20, 1987. It is constructed of steel and concrete with a main span of 1200 feet and a vertical clearance of 193 feet. Twenty-one steel cables in cased in nine-inch steel tubes along the center line of the bridge support the structure. It is equipped with a bridge protection system that has 36 large concrete bumpers, called dolphins, which are built to withstand an impact from any stray ships in the area of the bridges piers. At night, strategically placed lights add an additional touch of beauty.

Original Skyway Bridge converted into pier

The current bridge replaces an older bridge constructed in 1954, which was partly destroyed due to a collision in 1980.

In May of 1980, there was the collision between the freighter Capricorn and the Coast Guard cutter USS Blackthorn; twenty-three crew members aboard the Blackthorn were killed. Along with this, there were four other incidences where freighters or barges came into contact with the bridge, resulting in minor damages, but necessitating that something be done.

In September, 1994, the Florida Legislature passed an act, officially naming the current bridge the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway Bridge, who suggested the idea for this bridge after a trip to France where he saw a similar cable-stayed bridge and liked it so much he recommend it be done here. The original bridge was dedicated to state engineer William E Dean, with a plaque at the south rest area of the bridge.

Pelican along Tampa Bay

The Travel Channel rated the Sunshine Skyway #3 on the "Top 10 Bridges" in the World, and it's considered the "flag bridge" of Florida. If you find yourself going over the bridge one day, stop and take a moment to get out and enjoy the view; you may spot a passing boat or even a dolphin playing in the water. You may get to enjoy watching someone reeling in a snapper or another species of fish common in the area, or possibly even get the chance to toss a line in yourself, its one of the most fun things to do in Florida. Many people do fish from the old bridge that is still there, as it is a very popular local fishing spot, so feel free to join them.

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