6 votes

Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge


Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge Postcard

Postcard scanned by Robert Stephenson


BH Photo #156347



Lost Cantilevered through truss bridge over Intracoastal Waterway - Tampa Bay shipping channel on I-275, US 19
Pinellas County, Florida
Replaced by new bridge
Northbound bridge opened 1954, Southbound bridge opened in 1971. Southbound bridge destroyed in ship accident on May 9, 1980. Main spans imploded in 1990 but some of the approach spans surive as fishing piers
Cantilevered through truss main span
approach spans a combination of warren deck truss and concrete stringer
Approximate latitude, longitude
+27.60569, -82.65061   (decimal degrees)
27°36'20" N, 82°39'02" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
17/337108/3054611 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Anna Maria
Inventory number
BH 37324 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • July 30, 2019: New photo from Geoff Hubbs
  • June 24, 2018: New photo from Mike Daffron
  • February 20, 2015: Photos imported by Dave King
  • March 26, 2013: New photo from J.P.
  • May 15, 2011: New Street View added by Nick Brnot
  • May 20, 2010: New photos from James Norwood
  • February 28, 2010: Updated by Kim Harvey: gps, approach type
  • February 27, 2010: New photo from Robert Stephenson
  • November 15, 2008: New photos from Nathan Morton
  • November 14, 2008: Added by Nathan Morton
  • August 28, 2008: Added by Kim Harvey

Related Bridges 



Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Posted December 6, 2020, by Brian J. Patterson (pattersonbj [at] earthlink [dot] net)

This is a correction to my comment below. The name of the vessel that collided with the bridge in 1980 was the MV _Summit_ Venture, as correctly identified by other posters.

My information below comes from the NTSB Accident Report, which is available at https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/...

The Skyway Fishing Pier State Park status was obtained on Dec 6, 2020 from the Florida State Parks web site.

Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Posted December 6, 2020, by Brian J. Patterson (pattersonbj [at] earthlink [dot] net)

This is in reference to James Norwood's comment in 2009 and older comments.

The only survivor of the 1980 ship collision which destroyed the southern span was actually driving a Ford Courier pickup truck. That person survived because their truck actually bounced off of the MV Ocean Venture, the ship that brought the bridge down. This glancing collision with the ship actually reduced the total collision energies the truck and driver were subject to enough that the pickup driver entered the water with only minor injuries, and was able to swim free and be rescued.

The 35 people who died were subject to instant collision forces of no less than 67mph when their vehicles entered Tampa Bay. Most of them actually died of blunt-force trauma from the collision with the bay, and the few who actually drowned were so busted up that they were unable to successfully get out of their vehicles and up to the surface or even position themselves in such a way as to avoid drowning until the divers could rescue them.

This included the driver of the El Camino Mr. Norwood mentioned. That person's vehicle was actually the most seriously damaged vehicle of those to enter the water according to the NTSB.

As of December 2020, in spite of a world-wide pandemic of the respiratory viral disease "Covid-19," the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park is still open for anglers and other enthusiasts, so there is that.

Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Posted May 29, 2009, by James Norwood

I have pictures of us travelling over the section that collapsed while on a family vacation in the 1970's. I remember going back in 1985 and seeing the original bridge handling two way traffic just as it did when it was built. As expected, traffic was heavy, commute was slow, and fares were very high. Driving past the collapsed area was surreal when you realized how far all those folks had fallen. They were in the process of building the replacement bridge at that time and I have a photo of that as well. Perhaps soon I can scan them all and include them in this site.

I also have a book detailing the disaster somewhere in my collection. Sad thing is the fog the morning it happened. Those that went over the edge never had a chance to see it coming. One car managed to stop right at the edge on a section that was hanging at a 45 degree tilt. One of the idiots from that car had the balls to go back to the car after evacuating so he could retrieve his golf clubs out of the trunk. Unreal. The Greyhound bus was smashed and looked like it had broke it's back with it's frame bent. I believe the only survivor was in a Chevy El Camino.

Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Posted November 14, 2008, by Nathan Morton (morton890 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

The southbound span of the original bridge (the one built in 1969) was destroyed on May 9, 1980, when the freighter MV Summit Venture collided with a pier (support column) during a storm, sending over 1200 feet (366m) of the bridge plummeting into Tampa Bay. The collision caused six automobiles and a Greyhound bus to fall 150 feet (46 m), killing 35 people.[7][8]

One man, Wesley MacIntire, survived the fall when his pickup truck landed on the deck of the Summit Venture before falling into the bay

Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Posted August 28, 2008, by edward (edward [dot] tocco [at] yahoo [dot] com)

There is currently a movement to fight the closing of the Skyway fishing piers at this website (http://skywaypiers.proboards80.com/index.cgi).Come join the movement and hit the link for the online petitionand sign it. If you dont we may lose an historic piece of Florida/ Tampa Bay that we need to keep for our future generation to enjoy.

Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Posted August 28, 2008, by Jay Lehman (KimberlyNunemaker [at] Gmail [dot] com)

It seems a terrible waste, to destroy the Living Monument/Memorial, to those who died, (and their surviving relatives, and friends), on that Fateful Day (May 9, 1980).

A sign of the times indeed.

Budget Shortfalls, and Beurocratic Loopholes.

How sad is it the families who have built traditions, and enjoyed the benefits of this glorious, and magnificent "State Park", will soon lose another example of what is slowly becoming a thing of the past in todays society!

Thank goodness our Forefathers and Ancestors, had the good sense to save what little we have left now of our past, and God Bless Future generations, when they look back and realize the history that was lost, in this monumental blunder!

In the Report from FDOT, it says that their Engineer had determined the Bridge was no longer worth saving (not cost effective)...

I say that decision should have been left to the citizens of the Greater Tampa Bay, and the State Of Florida!


Jay H. Lehman Jr.

Old Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Posted August 28, 2008, by Thomas Holland (holland7959 [at] bellsouth [dot] net)

Did you know that they are planning to close the old bridge's east side and intend to demolish it in the near future. I though this bridge fell under the Historical places, bridges in FL. Is there some action that can be taken to stop F-DOT from proceding with this?