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Skyway Fishing Pier State Park

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The Longest Fishing Pier in the World
Skyway Fishing Pier State Park
© Dawn Henthorn, licensed to About.com
First built in 1954, the Skyway Bridge spans Tampa Bay, linking St. Petersburg to the north and Bradenton to the south.

Originally named the Sunshine Skyway, the 15-mile long stretch had lengthy causeways on both sides and a steep trussed bridge crossing above the Tampa Bay shipping channel. The top of the span was a mere 150 feet above the water and carried traffic in both north and south directions. Over the years, the increase in traffic finally encouraged the building of a parallel span which was opened in 1971. Each span carried two lanes of traffic — the old span funneled northbound traffic and the new span the southbound traffic.

In 1980, the unthinkable happened. The newest span that carried southbound traffic across the Skyway Bridge collapsed into Tampa Bay when the freighter Summit Venture slammed into a support piling during a violent storm. Nearly 700 feet of roadway fell into Tampa Bay and the early morning accident claimed 35 lives, including those traveling on a Greyhound bus.

The one remaining span again carried traffic in both directions for seven more years until a new single four-lane bridge was built and opened in 1987. The new bridge, modeled after the Brotonne Bridge over the Seine River in France, is Florida's first suspension bridge and is 4.1 miles long. Its roadway soars 183 feet above Tampa Bay.

The north- and south-bound approaches of the old bridges at both the north and south ends were turned into the longest fishing piers in the world — perhaps one of the few, if not only, piers that allow vehicles. Anglers are able to park just steps from where they cast their lines.

This picture was taken from the open window of the northern-most restroom facility of the North Skyway Fishing Pier. The building straight ahead houses the bait shop and canteen. The majestic Skyway Bridge is on your left.

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