Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Reef for marine life created from old Pinellas Bayway bridge

As the old Pinellas Bayway bridge was demolished (this part went down on June 13) the pieces were used to create an artificial reef.

Florida Department of Transportation

As the old Pinellas Bayway bridge was demolished (this part went down on June 13) the pieces were used to create an artificial reef.

The new Pinellas Bayway bridge is not only a boon for drivers and boaters, it turns out fishermen stand to gain from it as well.

Forty-ton concrete sections from the old bridge were dropped this year into the Gulf of Mexico about 11 miles west of John's Pass to form the South County Reef, an artificial reef site. The new reef is about 1,200 feet long and 15 feet high in waters about 45 feet deep.

Bill Horn, an environmental specialist with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, said the contractor, Orion Marine Group, can choose how to dispose of the old bridge material.

The reef site, one of 43 along the gulf coast in Pinellas County, is managed by Pinellas County Solid Waste in coordination with other state and federal agencies.

"These reefs are tremendous for fishing because they (fisherman) don't have to go far to catch kingfish, mackerel, flounder, red or black grouper and hogfish,'' said Jeff Hubbard, a fisherman whose father founded Hubbard's Marina. The elder Hubbard was also credited with developing John's Pass Village.

Charles Mangio of Pinellas County Solid Waste picked the location and supervised Orion Marine through every stage of the 4 ½-month deployment of approximately 12,000 tons of bridge materials.

"We basically wanted large, intact pieces,'' Mangio said. "We didn't want large piles of rubble."

The concrete is cleaned and stripped of anything harmful or toxic to the oceanic environment, such as plastics, rubber or materials with toxic chemicals, he said. Metals are also removed to be sold by the contractor.

Pamela Hallock Muller, a marine science professor at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, said artificial reefs can be beneficial under the right conditions.

"Concrete structures are possibly the best possible artificial reef materials, at least after natural limestone boulders or structures designed to incorporate limestone rocks and with lots of crevices for little things to live on," she said.

One of her concerns is that the reefs may encourage larger fish to move from their natural habitat and concentrate at the reefs, where they could be fished out. She suggested that restricting fishing for several years would allow the hard-bottom community to become established.

Muller said the material used and location are important.

"The old tire artificial reefs on the east coast were a disaster that is still being cleaned up decades later,'' she said. "Artificial reefs should be placed in sandy areas where they won't affect natural hard bottom and won't be moved around by storms."

fast facts

Watch as the reef is created in the gulf

To see a video posted by Pinellas County of the crew from Orion Marine Group placing a 40-ton span of bridge onto the new artificial reef site and conducting underwater inspections, visit

Read more about Pinellas reef sites at; search "reefs."

Reef for marine life created from old Pinellas Bayway bridge 10/25/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 3:02pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Video: Rays Souza on that oh-so-bad dive, and reaction from Twins fans


    What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking when he made that oh-so-bad dive for a ball in the seventh inning Friday? Well, we'll let him tell you ...

  2. What was Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. thinking on that comically bad dive?


    What could Rays RF Steven Souza Jr. been thinking in the seventh inning Friday when he dove for a ball and came up yards short?

    Actually, he insisted after all the laughing, teasing and standing ovation from the Twins fans was done, it was a matter of self-preservation.

  3. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo


    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  4. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies


    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  5. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win


    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.