Make us your home page
Instagram

Confused when you leave Tampa International Airport? You're not alone

A $215 million road reconstruction project near the airport, completed two years ago, has created some confusion. Visitors and residents have complained about the flurry of road signs.

OCTAVIO JONES | Times

A $215 million road reconstruction project near the airport, completed two years ago, has created some confusion. Visitors and residents have complained about the flurry of road signs.

TAMPA — Victor Crist learned the hard way to pay close attention whenever he leaves Tampa International Airport.

He doesn't want to wind up in the wrong county 20 miles out of his way. It has happened before — more than once — and he knows he's not alone.

That's because a $215 million road reconstruction project near the airport that was completed two years ago still confounds visitors and residents.

"It's very, very confusing,'' said Crist, a Hillsborough County commissioner and member of the board that oversees the airport. "There are some very short distances for drivers to make some quick decisions on where you are going. They can easily find themselves in the wrong lane going in the wrong direction. … We've been getting calls and complaints regarding the signage, and I know this is true from personal experience. Now I know better.''

Crist said he has raised the issue before with airport officials, who are sympathetic but say it's an issue for the Florida Department of Transportation. So he plans to raise the issue during Thursday's Hillsborough Aviation Authority Board meeting, to which the FDOT will send a representative.

While thinking he was headed from the airport toward Tampa, Crist said, he has ended up in St. Petersburg after taking the wrong exit off the George Bean Parkway. Signs twice warn motorists that there is no exit for 10 miles if they take the St. Petersburg exit, but that doesn't assuage the feeling of frustration, especially for first-time visitors dealing with unfamiliar territory in a rental car they've never driven before, Crist said.

That's especially true when they end up 10 miles away on the other side of Tampa Bay and have to figure out how to make the trek back across the Howard Frankland Bridge on Interstate 275. There are no westbound signs on the Pinellas side directing motorists back to Tampa, though if they take the first exit, to Fourth Street, they eventually can make a U-turn to get back to the Howard Frankland Bridge, although there are no signs for that, either.

Several roads lead in and out of the airport: I-275, U.S. 60, Eisenhower Boulevard and Veterans Expressway. The entrances to the airport from the north or south can be confusing, Crist said. Better signs going in and out of the airport are a must, he said.

Former Hillsborough County commissioner Joe Chillura, a Tampa architect, recently sent Crist an email laying out his concerns. Part of the problem, he wrote, is that St. Petersburg is on the right when motorists leave the airport but they must exit to the left to get there.

"Exit signage to a secondary destination are typically on a right turn exit ramp, not on the left side,'' Chillura wrote. "Additional preliminary signage as you depart the terminal informing drivers that they should bear left for St. Petersburg would help.''

Chillura wrote that the FDOT "created what I believe is visually intensive signage at the entry and exit of the terminal.'' He suggested the FDOT survey drivers and air travelers to determine the level of confusion.

Traffic troubles?

Do you have problems going to and from TIA? Tell us about your experiences. Please e-mail scherberger@tampabay.com

Confused when you leave Tampa International Airport? You're not alone 01/11/12 [Last modified: Thursday, January 12, 2012 2:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Pinellas construction licensing board needs to be fixed. But how?

    Local Government

    LARGO –– Everyone agrees that the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board needs to be reformed. But no one agrees on how to do it.

    Rodney Fischer, former executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board Rodney, at a February meeting. His management of the agency was criticized by an inspector general's report. [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  2. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  3. Boho Hunter will target fashions in Hyde Park

    Business

    Boho Hunter, a boutique based in Miami's Wynwood District, will expand into Tampa with its very first franchise.

    Palma Canaria bags will be among the featured items at Boho Hunter when it opens in October. Photo courtesy of Boho Hunter.
  4. Gallery now bringing useful art to Hyde Park customers

    Business

    HYDE PARK — In 1998, Mike and Sue Shapiro opened a gallery in St. Petersburg along Central Ave., with a majority of the space dedicated to Sue's clay studio.

     As Sue Shapiro continued to work on her pottery in St. Petersburg, her retail space grew and her studio shrunk. Now Shapiro's is bringing wares like these to Hyde Park Village. Photo courtesy of Shapiro's.
  5. Appointments at Raymond James Bank and Saint Leo University highlight this week's Tampa Bay business Movers & Shakers

    Business

    Banking

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. Jackson will oversee all of Raymond James Bank's operational business elements, risk management and strategic planning functions. Kackson joins Raymond James Bank after senior …

    Raymond James Bank has hired Grace Jackson to serve as executive vice president and chief operating officer. [Company handout]