When the Vital Links Break

Many Tampa Bay residents feel a surge of civic pride as they drive across the new $244 million, 4.1-mile Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the centerpiece of a 13- mile causeway connecting the tip of St. Petersburg's peninsula to the mainland. The span replaces a pair of cantilevered bridges, built in 1954 and 1971. The newer of the two collapsed in 1980, killing 35 people, when it was hit by a freighter during a blinding rainstorm. After the accident, more than 20,000 vehicles a day crowded onto the single remaining two-lane span. Government officials could have repaired the damaged structure for about $30...

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