Sunday, June 19, 2011

The sun sets on the Sunshine Skyway - the fishing piers, that is

I know, it's been a while since I posted here on the Interstate 275 Florida blog. But I recently found something interesting related to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge according to this Bay News 9 article, specifically the fishing piers on either side of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Let me give you some historical factoid on how the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge was transformed into fishing piers. In 1987 the new Sunshine Skyway Bridge as we know it today was opened to traffic, replacing a twin cantilever span built in 1954 and 1971. The 1971 span as we know was damaged on 9 May 1980 when the Summit Venture collided with an anchor pier on the main span immediately south of the main channel pier which resulted in the loss of 35 lives, including several people on a Greyhound bus bound for Miami.

Four years later after the new Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened to traffic, in 1991 the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge - in particular, the main high level cantilever spans - was demolished. However, a good part of the old spans were kept for use as a fishing pier which served their purpose for many years more.

Unfortunately, the remnants of what used to be the 1954 northbound span of the old Sunshine Skyway being used as a fishing pier began showing serious deterioration. A consulting engineer hired by the Florida DOT took a look and the deterioration was so serious that the span merited permanent closure to the public and demolition.

So, it is what is left of the 1954 northbound span of the old Sunshine Skyway - which was used as a fishing pier - that is being demolished. The remnants of the 1971 southbound span of the old Sunshine Skyway is still in use as a fishing pier.

It's sad to see a piece of Tampa Bay area memorabilia fall to the wrecker's ball. But add in the cost of extended upkeep and it can get quite expensive. On a side note, it's not just the old 1954 Sunshine Skyway northbound span that is being demolished - the old 1956 westbound span of the Gandy Bridge, used for many years as the Friendship Trail, has been closed due to serious deterioration and I believe it is slated for demolition. I can go on forever about the Friendship Trail, but I'll save it for another topic.

Here's a website for more information about the Sunshine Skyway fishing piers - To get there, there are two fishing piers, one on the north end and the other on the south end. To get to the north end fishing pier, simply exit Interstate 275 at the north rest area and follow the signs to the fishing pier. To get to the south end fishing pier, simply exit Interstate 275 at the south rest area and follow the signs which will lead you on a road that takes you over a small bridge that parallels the Interstate 275 mainline and the entrance gate to the south fishing pier will be straight ahead.

Admission prices are as follows, according to the website:

$4.00 for your vehicle, plus $4.00 for each adult or $2.00 for each child 6 to 11 years old. Children 5 and under are admitted free. This allows you access for 24 hours to either fishing pier. If you want just to sightsee, a one-hour pass, valid from sunrise to sunset, is available for $3.00.

It makes for a great day trip!