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Don't forget: Stay off I-275

Sometime today, traffic will be shifted to the ramp on the right. 

BRIAN CASSELLA | Times

Sometime today, traffic will be shifted to the ramp on the right. 

TAMPA — If you don't enjoy the kind of traffic that makes you want to scream, pull out your hair or, worse, someone else's, then follow our advice:

Avoid Interstate 275 northbound between the Howard Frankland Bridge and downtown Tampa this weekend.

The Florida Department of Transportation is predicting epic traffic jams stretching into Pinellas County as it funnels traffic down to one or two lanes from Lois Avenue to Ashley Drive.

The lane changes are part of a grand scheme to shift traffic from the existing roadway to the interstate's newly constructed lanes.

Department spokesman John McShaffrey says the slowdowns could add an hour to commute times throughout today and Sunday until 5:30 a.m. Monday.

Here's what to expect:

• One or two of the three lanes will close on northbound I-275 from Lois Avenue (Exit 40B) to Ashley Drive/Scott Street (Exit 44).

• The Ashley Drive/Scott Street exit ramps (Exit 44) will alternately be closed until 5:30 a.m. today. Traffic will be detoured to whichever of the two ramps is open at the time.

• Starting today, traffic will be shifted to the new I-275 northbound lanes. Only two lanes will be open until about 5:30 a.m. Monday.

Expect residual backups along nearby local east-west roads such as Columbus Drive, Kennedy Boulevard and Cypress Street.

Use suggested alternate routes, but plan for delays.

By Monday morning, traffic is expected to be flowing on the new alignment in three lanes. But the speed limit between Lois and downtown for the foreseeable future will be 45 mph due to narrower-than-usual lanes and shoulders.

Plan accordingly.

Alternate routes, if you must drive

Looking for alternate routes? These should help. But keep in mind that the I-275 backups could increase traffic on the alternate routes, too. So, plan for delays, no matter what you do.

From Pinellas County to Tampa International Airport: Take State Road 60 across the Courtney Campbell Parkway and follow the many signs to the airport.

To get to Ybor City from points west and south: Take Gandy Bridge and Gandy Boulevard to the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway and go east. Get off at 22nd Street. (Exit 9).

To get to Ford Amphitheater from south Pinellas County: Take Gandy Bridge and Gandy Boulevard to the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway. Get off at 22nd Street (Exit 9). Head north on 22nd Street to Interstate 4. Get on I-4 heading east, exiting at U.S. Highway 301 (Exit 7).

To get to Ford Amphitheater from Northern and Central Pinellas County: Take State Road 60 across the Courtney Campbell Causeway to Veterans/Memorial. Follow the signs to W Spruce St./Raymond James Stadium exit (Exit 1B). Take Spruce until it becomes Boy Scout Boulevard. Go north on N Dale Mabry Highway, then east on Martin Luther King Boulevard. Take that to I-275 southbound (yes, southbound). Follow the signs to Interstate 4. Take I-4 east to U.S. 301 (Exit 7).

To get to Channelside, downtown Tampa and the St. Petersburg Times Forum from points west and south: Take Gandy Bridge and Gandy Boulevard to the Lee Roy Selmon Crosstown Expressway. Get off at Downtown E/Downtown W (Exit 6A-6B)

Don't forget: Stay off I-275 04/24/09 [Last modified: Friday, April 24, 2009 10:27pm]

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