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Report on cruise industry in Tampa points to limitations of Skyway Bridge

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The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) on Tuesday released the Tampa Bay Cruise Pre-Feasibility Study. The study was commissioned to determine how the region can both maintain its current cruise business while at the same time allow for significant growth from the new "mega" cruise ship market, and to identify potential courses of action.

This pre-feasibility report is the culmination of an exhaustive research effort that included cruise industry and stakeholder interviews, shipbuilding orders and trends, cruise industry marketing, passenger trends and demographics, stakeholder review, feedback and validation.

The port is home to five vessels, bringing in 854,000 passengers in 2013.

However as the cruise industry continues to launch larger and larger ships, the entrance into the port of Tampa is not growing.

The limiting factor is the height of the Sunshine Skyway bridge.

The Florida Department of Transportation has a Pre-Feasibility study pointing out three available options to deal with the height restrictions of the Skyway.

The first option is to do nothing and only receive vessels that fit under the bridge.

The second option would involve the construction of en entirely new port facility on the seaward side of the bridge.

The final option presented is to replace the Skyway Bridge.

FDOT says its important to note they are not recommending any of the options over the other.

The study claims that without the height restraints of the bridge, the cruise industry could grow to more than 2.5 million passengers a year.

Copyright 2014 WFLA. All rights reserved.

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