What's the latest on the nightmare that is the Interstate 275 rush hour commute from St. Petersburg into Tampa? Is the Department of Transportation doing anything to alleviate the Howard Frankland Bridge backups?
We checked in with DOT spokesman John McShaffrey, who told us that the DOT's project team and engineers have been reviewing the roadway alignment and monitoring traffic since implementing the temporary lane shift of traffic Jan. 12. The recent gridlock is the result of a combination of issues to include the conversion of an auxiliary lane into a through-lane, which formerly carried traffic entering I-275 from Dale Mabry Highway and Himes Avenue and traffic exiting to Armenia Avenue.
"Using this lane for through-traffic is necessary to maintain three through-lanes throughout the corridor, but has greatly reduced the time and space for drivers to merge into the through-lane," McShaffrey said.
The lane conversion left too little pavement area to provide adequate room for traffic merges because of the construction work close to the left lane and the permanent barrier wall along the right side of the roadway. Because of what McShaffrey describes as the physical constraints of the highway corridor, this situation will be ongoing during this construction phase.
The DOT has asked the contractor performing the work to do whatever can be done to speed up the construction and open additional lanes as soon as possible. The anticipated timeline for completion is mid-February, which will include the opening of a fourth traffic lane from the Westshore area.
How long is the work on U.S. 19 N and Curlew Road supposed to last and what exactly is the work all about?
The work, which began earlier this month, will extend the two northbound left-turn lanes. Work is anticipated to be complete April 1; motorists should expect nightly lane closures and traffic delays.
• Sidewalk upgrade work is scheduled to begin this week along 44th Street from 42nd Avenue N to 46th Avenue N. Expect lane closures and flagging personnel onsite to direct traffic through the life of the project, anticipated to be done March 25.
• Work to build a new roadway at 43rd Street from 118th Avenue N to 40th Street N is scheduled to begin Feb. 6. The state DOT project will involve lane closures and motorists should be prepared for delays.
• The water line installation and sewer work project that began in September on 60th Avenue N at 109th Street is scheduled to wrap up Feb. 29.
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