I usually do posts about failed infrastructure on Sunday, but since we have an anniversary today… The Skyway bridge collapsed 40 years ago. Here’s how we’re remembering the tragedy. That is a collection of links to things about the collapse. Interviews with people who worked search and rescue, information about the trial of the pilot, and a few other links.
Saturday marks 40 years since the 19,734-ton Summit Venture freighter slammed into the old Skyway bridge. Six cars, a truck and a Greyhound bus plummeted 150 feet into the choppy waters of Tampa Bay below. Thirty-five died.
A two-lane bridge opened in 1954. A second structure, similar to the first opened in 1959 making the crossing 4 lanes, connecting the south end of Pinellas County with the north end of Manatee County.
On Friday May 9th, 1980 at 7:33 in the morning, the vessel MV Summit Venture, in fog and rain, struck one of the supports of the southbound lanes of the Sunshine Skyway, causing about 1200 feet of the bridge to fall 150 feet into the water. 35 people died. Cars, trucks and a Greyhound bus fell into the water that day. Most died of blunt-force trauma. Some drowned. One man survived when his truck landed on the deck of the Summit Venture before falling into the water.
This video documents the official recording of the MAYDAY call between MV Summit Venture and the US Coast Guard base in St Petersburg. A few other ships are heard as well. Photos are of the aftermath.
The new bridge corrects the design flaw of the original bridge, in that any vessel straying off course is going to impact something substantial before it impacts the bridge structure itself. I hope they got it right.
The new bridge has the following stats:
- total length 1219.60 m (if you include the causeway, it s 6.7km)
- main span 366.75 m
- clearance below main span 55m
As I write this, there is not much coverage of the anniversary outside of Florida. I guess that’s to be expected.
The video after the break is of the new bridge.