Illuminating Florida’s ‘flagship’ Sunshine Skyway Bridge

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An image taken from a Florida Department of Transportation video shows “elegant” lighting on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, part of a $15 million project to outfit the bridge profile and underside columns with color changeable, high-efficiency LED fixtures. The DOT expects to complete the project this fall. The Skyway, visible from Anna Maria Island, is Florida’s “flagship bridge,” according to the DOT. Islander Photo: Courtesy DOT

When the sun sets west of Anna Maria Island, “sunset” lights will shine to the east on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

The state transportation department is outfitting Florida’s flagship bridge — visible from many locations on AMI’s north end and bayfront vistas — with 1,824 LED fixtures.

The bridge across Tampa Bay on Interstate 275 has long been outfitted with lights shining upward on the yellow cables, but the new fixtures are high-efficiency and color changeable and they will light the underside of the bridge and pilings.

In addition to “sunset” colors, the lights will change to “new year,” “verdant green,” “waves,” “gateway” “patriotic,” “purple majestic” and “elegant.”

An example of “verdant green” LED lighting on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay on Interstate 275. Islander Photo: Courtesy DOT

The DOT is installing the fixtures — varying between 48 and 205 watts — on the bridge profile and underside columns.

The lighted section of the bridge will include the slopes and main span for a total of 8,860 feet — or 1.7 miles.

Profile lights along the main span and high-level approaches are being mounted on brackets.

As for the columns, they will be illuminated by floodlighting fixtures mounted to the underside of the deck and box girders, washing along the height of each column and fading near the waterline, according to DOT spokeswoman Kristen Carson.

An example of how “Patriotic” lighting will look on the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Islander Photo: Courtesy DOT

“The Skyway is the gateway to Tampa Bay and the flagship bridge of Florida,” read an outline for the project provided Aug. 1 by Carson. “The Skyway lighting project is a unique enhancement, unlike any other in the world. The project will stand for the Tampa Bay region as an inspiration for residents and all who visit.”

Many newer bridges in the state feature aesthetic lighting, including the Pensacola Bay Bridge, the Fuller Warren Bridge and Main Street bridges in Jacksonville, Hathaway Bridge in Panama City, 17th Street Bridge in Miami, five bridges crossing the Hillsborough River in Tampa and the John Ringling Causeway Bridge in Sarasota.

The Skyway Bridge lighting promises aesthetic value, but also will add safety and security to the underside of the bridge, which is dark now, according to Carson’s outline.

Tolls collected on the Skyway paid for the project, expected to cost about $15 million.

The DOT says the project will be completed this fall.


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