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'Dad' of longest toll road

© St. Petersburg Times
published March 8, 2002

Father knew best when it came to building bridges.

George S. "Dad" Gandy was the moving force to build a bridge between Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. Gandy Bridge, which spans Tampa Bay, is named in his honor.

The Philadelphia native first thought of the idea in 1902, but work was delayed because of World War I. Gandy, a St. Petersburg developer, was determined to make his dream come true. Without the bridge, the trip between Tampa and St. Petersburg was a long 49 miles. With the bridge, the trip was a mere 19 miles. Money was needed so Gandy started selling stocks. With financing in hand, work began in 1922.

The bridge was opened on Nov. 20, 1924. At the time, the 6-mile span was the longest toll road in the world. During the two-year project, 170,000 sacks of cement, 30,000 tons of gravel, 3,500 tons of steel and 1.2-million bricks were used.

Gandy died in 1946 at age 95. Gandy Boulevard is also named in his honor.

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