Are Tampa Bay's bridges prepared for a major hurricane?

6:44 PM, Jun 26, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida -- Other than the Sunshine Skyway, all the other major bridges in the Tampa Bay area remained open as of Tuesday evening.

Dangerous conditions forced the Howard Frankland Bridge and Courtney Campbell Causeway to be closed for parts of Monday. High winds helped push waves over barricades and onto cars.

The fact that it happened with only tropical storm force winds has some people wondering what would happen with Category 2 or 3 hurricane force winds.

"I've always worried about it," said Steve Hintz of Clearwater.

Pinellas County Emergency Managers say the bridge closures should get the attention of everyone living in the area.

"If this doesn't serve as a wake up call, I don't know what will," said county spokesperson Tom Iovino.

But is the area prepared to handle a more significant storm?

Iovino says yes, but given the lack of protection from the wind and water on the bridges, some could close even before an evacuation is ordered.

"It has happened before, it will happen again.  We just need people to understand if your plans take you out of Pinellas, you need to leave early," Iovino said.

Emergency managers say they can't remember a time where the Howard Frankland and Courtney Campbell were shut down at the same time since 2004's active hurricane season.

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