WFLA News Channel 8

We've all driven over the Sunshine Skyway bridge connecting Manatee and Pinellas Counties, over Tampa Bay. The original Skyway was built in the '50s and collapsed in 1980 when it was hit by a barge. The bridge as it stands now was opened in 1987. I remember driving over the new bridge as a kid, before the remnants of the old bridge had been demolished. It was super creepy driving next to it, seeing the missing span just gaping there over the Bay.

Now, the FDOT is considering building a new Skyway, one that is taller than the existing one. The reason is, the new class of "mega" cruise ships are so tall that they don't fit under the Skyway! I can barely imagine a vessel so big, but these new ships aren't able to sail in and out of the Port of Tampa because they can't physically get there!

One proposed solution is to build a new Port of Tampa on the Gulf side of the Skyway, to accommodate these massive ships.

Another idea is to build a new Skyway, that's tall enough to allow these mega ships to safely pass.

If neither of those proposed solutions pan out, the only other option is to do nothing and only receive vessels that fit under the existing bridge.

There are currently around 800,000 passengers that sail in and out of the Port of Tampa annually. If the mega ships were able to depart from the Port of Tampa, the number of passengers would increase to an estimated 2.5 million annually, which would be a big boost to the local economy.

Aside from the potential traffic nightmare, would you be in favor of a new Sunshine Skyway Bridge?

(image: FloridaPhotoMatt)