Saturday, February 7, 2009

Abandoned Bridge (The Old Sunshine Skyway)

This photograph of the old Sunshine Skyway a cantilever span type bridge in Tampa Bay shows the destroyed pier that was struck by the freighter "MV Summit Venture" on May 9 1980 killing 35 people.

This image was taken with 35mm slide film in late 1986 as the final stages of the new Sunshine Skyway Bridge were being completed, in 1993 the Old Bridge shown here was demolished.


Edward Ringwald said...

I came across your blog by way of a Google search for images of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. I came across your blog entry on the old Sunshine Skyway and took a look at the picture that you took in 1986.

I took a close look at the picture of the damaged pier along with the rest of the old Sunshine Skyway. Although you took it on 35 mm slide film, the resolution is superb.

However, I can give you some insight on the old Sunshine Skyway, as I was born and raised here in St. Petersburg and I still vividly remember when news of the old Sunshine Skyway collapse broke on the radio as I was getting ready for school back then.

First, I believe the top of the pier that was damaged in the 1980 accident was sheared off and went into the water intact upon impact. After all, you have a heavy vessel (even though it was empty coming into the Port of Tampa) and that support pier could not withstand the impact when the ship made contact. I believe that the top of the pier still rests on the bottom of Tampa Bay where it came to rest after impact even to this day creating a mini-fishing reef.

Second, there were plans to rebuild the southbound span of the old Sunshine Skyway months after the 1980 accident at one point. The remnants of the southbound span would have been re-used, with the exception of the two support piers that were involved in the accident (the destroyed pier and the tall main channel pier that looks different than the other three main channel piers) that would have had to be replaced.

Speaking of the tall channel pier that looks different than the other three tall channel piers of the old Sunshine Skyway, it was initially constructed identical to the other tall channel piers but in 1969 cracks - supposedly due to the shallow depth of the pilings driven to support the pier - were discovered necessitating repairs. The southbound span of the old Sunshine Skyway opened in 1971 after the repairs were made.

Finally, in 1991 the old Sunshine Skyway was dismantled four years after the new Sunshine Skyway opened for traffic. Although the old Sunshine Skyway and its tall channel piers are gone, it is a reminder of the tragedy that took place and the triumph that came several years later when the new Sunshine Skyway opened which is today a signature icon of the Tampa Bay area as a region.

Your blog entry is great - keep up the good work!

Edward Ringwald
Webmaster, and

Richard Rizzo said...

Thank you Edward for your great comment and update, Though I'm still in Florida I haven't been back to that area in awhile. I also have a few shots of the old and new bridge together and one of those are in my other blog "Mind's Eye" which you can follow through the link on this blog. The photo's were taken with E-6 slide film but have been damaged to the point where I would have to do extensive work on them [due to scratches on the film] to be printable but for web photos they are fine.
I'll be sure to drop by your website and check it out.
Thanks again !

Ed Donnelly said...

You can find all you need to know and watch an awesome video of the day of the disaster at