Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Gear up for patience on I-275

When the state shuts one of the busiest exits off Interstate 275 in Tampa late Tuesday, drivers, businesses and neighborhoods expect to be in for months of pain.

Motorists use the Dale Mabry Highway exit off southbound I-275 to get to Raymond James Stadium, Hillsborough Community College, Tampa International Airport, shopping centers — and of course, home.

"For the next four months, it's going to be a madhouse," said Macfarlane Park Association and Neighborhood Watch president Guido Mansicalco. He said elderly members of his association in West Tampa plan to avoid the area all together.

Although the I-275 construction project has been going on for two years, the Florida Department of Transportation didn't finalize plans to close the southbound Exit 41A/B until May 16.

The agency first spoke with the project's contractor, the city, neighborhood groups and local businesses, said DOT spokesman John McShaffrey.

He said the alternative — which could have backed up traffic on I-275 — was to leave one exit ramp lane open and permit only northbound turns onto Dale Mabry for six to nine months.

"It's happening over the summer when traffic is a little bit lighter," he said. "School is not in session for the majority of that. The tourism season is much lighter during the summer."

The ramp is scheduled to close starting at 11:30 p.m. Tuesday and open again sometime in September. Southbound drivers who wish to exit will be directed to the Himes Avenue exit instead.

Unlike the Dale Mabry ramp, it's a left-hand exit — meaning that drivers will have to get over into the left lane.

Ron Rotella, executive director of the Westshore Alliance business district association, fears patrons of retailers like Home Depot and Walmart will be frustrated by the closure.

"We expressed our concern to them," Rotella said. "They pretty much told us that they didn't have any options."

The Tampa Sports Authority, which operates the Raymond James Stadium, has been in frequent contact with the DOT over the closure, said spokesman Bobby Silvest.

Given the short notice, the authority hasn't yet decided how best to notify people headed to the stadium.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have two preseason home games in August. Depending on how far the ramp construction goes into September, the Sept. 7 and 14 regular season games could be affected as well.

The University of South Florida Bulls also play home games at Raymond James.

Tampa International Airport will alert travelers by social media on Tuesday, said spokeswoman Emily Nipps.

The airport is not doing more to warn drivers, she said, because Dale Mabry does not directly lead to the airport.

Improvements to Himes Avenue will be completed before the detour goes into effect, McShaffrey said. Exiting traffic will be detoured off at Himes, then directed to take Cypress Street west to Dale Mabry.

The DOT will install additional traffic signals on Cypress Street and Himes to help manage the extra traffic, McShaffrey said.

The good news: When it's all done, the DOT will not need to close the Dale Mabry exit off I-275 in the other direction for similar construction, he said.

"Sometimes as we go through big projects like this, some closures are inevitable," McShaffrey said. "We're going to try to shorten the duration on this as much as possible. Hopefully it'll all go smoothly and after it's opened up, things will be a little better in that area."

Gear up for patience on I-275 05/25/14 [Last modified: Sunday, May 25, 2014 8:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Editorial: The human cost of slashing Medicaid

    Editorials

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell had no choice Tuesday but to postpone voting this week on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act that is just as devastating as the version passed by the House. The Congressional Budget Office's estimate that Senate bill would eliminate health care coverage for 22 million …

    Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press
  2. Editorial: Scott's poor choice for CFO

    Editorials

    Gov. Rick Scott didn't reach too deeply into Florida's talent pool in appointing his friend Jimmy Patronis to fill a vacancy as the state's new chief financial officer. This is an exceptionally weak choice for a Cabinet post that requires a sophisticated understanding of banking and other financial services, and it …

    Jimmy Patronis’ selection is about politics.
  3. Tampa Bay child welfare agencies get additional state funding, plan to hire more social workers

    News

    TAMPA — Buoyed by the award of an additional $3.7 million in state funding, Eckerd Kids plans to hire more social workers to ease the strain on Hillsborough County's overburdened child welfare system.

    The child welfare system in Hillsborough County will get an additional $3 million in funding for the upcoming fiscal  year beginning July 1, according to Eckerd Kids, the agency contracted to run the system by the state.
  4. Bill Nelson knocks Rick Scott over Senate health bill

    Blogs

    Sen. Bill Nelson attacked Gov. Rick Scott, his likely 2018 rival, over today's trip to Washington.