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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I thought about putting this with the Pinellas County Freeways thread that I created a while back. However, because the bridge goes through Manatee and Hillsborough Counties as well, I think the Sunshine Skyway deserves its own thread...

Moderators: Please let me know if there are threads regarding the Sunshine Skyway in any of the world forums...

Skyway Paint Job Expected To Be Finished This Summer


The Tampa Tribune

Published: June 24, 2008


TAMPA - Barring a steamier summer than usual, the repainting job on the Sunshine Skyway's cables, now in its 17th month, could be finished before the end of the summer.

The only caveat: Southwest Florida can't produce more than its usual share of thunderstorms. Even too much humidity can cause a runny mess for workers priming and painting the bridge's 42 steel cables.

"If there's condensation on the cables the paint won't stick," Department of Transportation spokeswoman Kris Carson said.

The bridge's cables are being stripped to the metal, primed and painted "taxicab yellow" to match their appearance 21 years ago when the Skyway opened to traffic.

"Back then, you could see it from miles around, especially at night when it was all lit up. It was gorgeous," said David Stein of Largo, who fishes twice a week from the Skyway's north pier.

So far, half of the cables are finished except for the bottom 20 feet. They've been sand-blasted clean, primed and painted twice, one white coat and one yellow, and given a final protective, glossy clear coat. The bottom portion was chipped by equipment, so the cables will be stripped and painted again.

The rest of the cables are 65 percent complete, Carson said. They've been stripped and primed and partly painted.

The progress is visible from the piers, where fishermen and sightseers can make out the distinct transition from green-gray primer to white to yellow paint.

The unique project has encountered delays from the get-go.

At first, the DOT and contractor VHP Enterprises Inc. couldn't agree on the best way to lift workers up and down the cables.

The contractor proposed a gondola system, but the DOT scrapped that idea because of cost and technical issues. Then the company suggested scaffolds attached to the cables. The DOT rejected that, too, saying the weight of the metal would put too much stress on cables during high winds.

Finally, they agreed to use metal boxes that function like window-washer platforms. The motorized boxes are surrounded by tarps to catch overspray. A vacuum hose catches the yellow paint chips that fly off during the sand-blasting.

A handful of motorists have been compensated after complaining that spray landed on their vehicles, said Pepe Garcia, structures and maintenance engineer for the DOT in the Tampa Bay area. Nobody has been injured on the job.

The two inside lanes were closed to provide about 25 feet for equipment and workers.

So far, the project has lasted 17 months, with two or three more anticipated. Initially, the project was expected to last six months.

"It's not easy. There are no other structures like it in the country," Garcia said.

Besides rain and humidity, workers also have to deal with wind. If winds exceed 25 mph, they cannot climb the cables - nearly 200 feet at their peak - in case a gust shakes the tarps loose.

In addition to the cables, the refurbishment includes painting the barrier walls light-gray and replacing the bridge's lighting.

When finished, workers will have used 1,000 gallons of primer, 1,000 gallons of the intermediate white paint, 700 gallons of yellow paint and 700 gallons of the clear coat. Originally scheduled at $3.4 million, the project's cost is now estimated at $4 million.

Even in its partially painted state, the 4-mile bridge remains an icon, said Matt Smith of Port Richey, who last week snapped photos with his daughter, Haley, 11, from the south fishing pier.

Smith was a year older than Haley is now when the Skyway opened in 1987 to replace its predecessor, which partially collapsed when a freighter hit a support column in May 1980. Thirty-five people died.

"It's amazing to look at," Smith said. "It's nothing like any of the other bridges around here."

The Skyway's twin concrete spires rise 423 feet above the water, each bracing 21 suspension cables. The bridge supports about 50,000 vehicles daily. The toll is $1 each way for cars (75 cents for SunPass users), and last year raked in $17.8 million, a 41 percent increase from 1997.

Lee Daniel, deputy director of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, said the bridge is displayed in local marketing materials and has shown up in car commercials and movies.

"It's not quite to the point of the Golden Gate Bridge, but it's certainly well-known," he said. "It's just so striking, the arches. It almost demands you stop and take a picture."

Reporter Rich Shopes can be reached at (813) 259-7633 or at [email protected].


It's about time this thing started nearing completion! :gaah:

13,967 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
This is getting annoying...

TAMPA BAY, FL -- Labor day has come and gone, but the labor on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge continues.

As we first reported in March, the cleaning and painting of the local landmark is costing taxpayers $4.1 million. The job began on January 3, 2007 and was supposed to take six months. It's taken 20.

Kris Carson, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Transportation, told ABC Action News Investigative Reporter Matthew Schwartz, "We've had a lot of issues with weather. People think it's just rain and lightning, but if there's wind, they can't work."

Carson also blames longer than expected discussions with the contractor, V.H.P. Enterprises of Tarpon Springs, about various work and safety issues.

Carson said, "We were going back and forth with the contractor about how he would erecnt equipment, in order not to damage the cables, to get them painted. There was a difference of opinion there."

The contractor would not comment, referring us to the D.O.T. for all questions.

There have been numerous delays. Work has been postponed on a total of 482 days; 241 due to what the state calls "Additional Granted Days," when continuing issues had to be worked out with the contractor. The state says there have been 207 "Weather Delay Days."

"I think we realize right now that six months was a little unrealistic," Carson says.

Cleaning the steel cables on the four-mile span and applying four coats of yellow paint is painstaking work. This is now the second-longest delayed job in the past four years locally. Only the Clearwater Memorial Causeway Bridge took longer, at 649 days. The state could have penalized the contractor two-thousand dollars a day for missing deadlines, but didn't, because it's pleased with the job and felt the company wasn't to blame for weather or safety issues.

The project is now expected to be complete by the end of September. The delays will not cost taxpayers more than the $4-plus million it's already costing.

Copyright 2008 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

9,556 Posts
Has anyone noticed that in certain photos the Sunshine Skyway Bridge looks like a model?
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