The current Sunshine Skyway is a piece of cake, even for a bridge-phobic like me. The old, however, was TERRIBLE. And got even worse after the collapse of the one span.
On that fateful morning of May 9th,1980 at 07:38 , during a violent rain squall producing high winds and almost zero visibility the empty phosphate freighter SUMMIT VENTURE piloted by Captain John Lerro slammed into the #2 South pier ( over 700 feet from the center of the channel ) of the southbound (1970) span , it knocked 1261 feet of center span, cantilever , approach and roadway into Tampa Bay. Thirty-five people , most of them on board a Greyhound bus bound for Miami plunged 150 feet to their deaths in what is now one of the worst bridge disasters in history. Rescue crews and divers were immediately dispatched to the scene, but of the victims who made the fall there was only one survivor , whose truck had luckily landed on the deck of the SUMMIT VENTURE
After the fatal accident, traffic was rerouted onto the two-lane northbound span, until the planning and completion of the new SUNSHINE BRIDGE which opened in April of 1987.