PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A $6 million improvement to an iconic piece of Tampa Bay area infrastructure is underway.
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is eye-catching from miles away. A closer look reveals wear-and-tear on its yellow coated cables.
“It’s our gateway to Tampa Bay, it’s our icon bridge of Florida. It deserves to be kept in this beautiful condition,” Jim Jacobsen, with the Florida Department of Transportation said.
According to Jacobsen, crews are halfway through the three-part process of repainting the bridge.
“The essentiality of the paint is to protect the steel cables from corrosion in the salt-spray environment of the Skyway in the open Tampa Bay,” he explained.
The 84 steel cables stretch 430-feet in the air. The height, wind and quickly changing weather conditions make the job more challenging.
Jacobsen said a unique pulley system makes the task possible.
“They’re called ‘spider baskets.’ They’re fully contained with tarps, the pain and the blasting does not fall outside. It’s a challenge in an enclosed area for the painters to go up and down the rigging while keeping everyone else safe below,” he described.
This is the bridge’s third repainting since its completion in 1987.
Project leaders ask drivers to slow down as they drive past painting crews. They’re expecting the work to be complete in 2023.