2012 $5.15 Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Issue Date: February 28, 2012
City: St. Petersburg, FL
Printed By: Banknote Corporation of America for Sennett Security Products
Printing Method: Offset
The four-mile-long Sunshine Skyway Bridge forms a stunning silhouette across Tampa Bay, making it a popular photo subject and setting for automobile commercials.
Opening in 1954, the first Sunshine Skyway Bridge reduced travel time across the bay and opened a route to southern Florida. The two lanes of the span became crowded, so another bridge was built next to it to relieve the traffic.
On May 9, 1980, the freighter Summit Venture struck the newer span during a thunderstorm. A large section of the bridge tumbled into the bay, and 35 lives were lost.
Florida Governor Bob Graham had seen a bridge in France with a unique design. When the new bridge was built over Tampa Bay, the same cable-stayed construction was used. Steel cables anchored to two towers support the center section of the bridge.
The old bridges have brought new life to the area. The remnants of the center portion were sunk in the bay as artificial reefs. The entrance ramps of the bridges became the Skyway State Fishing Piers, complete with picnic tables and a bait shop. As each day ends, tourists and local residents gather on the piers to witness one of the colorful sunsets that light up the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.