Arthur Goodale, a top engineer on the original Sunshine Skyway, died Friday in Dunedin. He was 97.
Throughout his life, Goodale was a rigorous engineer and an outspoken critic of lapses in bridge maintenance, said his son Alan. "He was one of the first to blow the whistle that bridges were in peril of falling down," Alan Goodale said.
Arthur Goodale was trained as a civil engineer, and served in the U.S. Navy "Seabees," helping build and re-build air bases across the pacific during World War II, including Okinawa. Later he helped supervise construction of the original bridge between Pinellas and Manatee counties that opened in 1954.
"He took great pride in that project," Alan said. "At the time, it was one of the top 10 man-made projects in the world."
Then on May 9, 1980, a phosphate freighter struck a Skyway pier during a severe storm, ripping open a 400-yard section. A Greyhound bus and seven other vehicles, carrying a total of 35 people, plunged 150-feet into the water. Wesley MacIntire of Gulfport was the only survivor.
Goodale was among the first to investigate the incident, Alan said. Later, that bridge was replaced by the current Sunshine Skyway. Remnants of the former bridge are now used as a pedestrian walkway and fishing pier.
In 2004, Arthur Goodale spoke out when cracks emerged in supports underneath the new $70 million bridge between Clearwater Beach and the mainland.
Goodale died Friday evening from complications of old age at a nursing home in Dunedin. He is survived by his son Alan and daughter Sondra Nelson.