Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Interstate 275 in Tampa will get wider bridges to ward off traffic snarls, increase safety

Traffic makes its way towards the Ashley Street exit in downtown Tampa.

CARRIE PRATT | Times (2008)

Traffic makes its way towards the Ashley Street exit in downtown Tampa.

TAMPA — As part of a push to boost highway safety, workers will break ground this summer on a two-year project to widen every bridge on Interstate 275 between Floribraska and Yukon avenues.

But don't look for the $30 million state Department of Transportation effort to add more lanes to the gridlocked artery to downtown Tampa.

The aim, officials say, is to increase safety for first responders and drivers in broken-down cars, as well as give motorists a clear path to get around those vehicles.

Work is expected to start June 11 and most of it will happen at night on southbound lanes from 9 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. and on northbound lanes from 10:30 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Traffic will be narrowed to two lanes in work zones and constricted below the bridges. All of the work will occur on the inside lanes and cranes, likely in the median, will be used to drive pilings into the ground, officials said.

Too often, just one disabled vehicle can trigger a miles-long delay and hinder troopers trying to get to the vehicle or a crash scene, Department of Transportation spokesman John McShaffrey said.

"This is a safety project. There's virtually no shoulders on those bridges and on the inside lanes, in particular," he said. "This will give motorists the ability when they break down to pull over onto those shoulders where they can't now."

The project will create 21-foot-wide emergency lanes — big enough for fire trucks, ambulances and broken-down cars.

In effect, it will transform the 26 northbound and southbound bridges along the 4.2-mile stretch into 13 bridges with concrete dividers separating northbound and southbound traffic.

The improvements should benefit troopers, emergency responders and drivers, Florida Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Steve Gaskins said.

"When a crash occurs and traffic backs up, we've got to get there and do our job, and time is of the essence," he said. "Having an extra emergency lane will help reduce response time, and response time in a bad crash is critical."

Many of the spans on I-275 were built in the mid 1960s and don't meet modern safety standards, according to the DOT.

Part of the aim, officials say, is to bring those bridges up to standard, make them consistent with recent road projects and create a continuous inside emergency lane along the length of the highway.

There's no indication where exactly the work will start. That will be left to the contractor to decide, McShaffrey said.

"Since they're building toward the middle, I wouldn't be surprised if they work from both ends at the same time," he said.

As part of the work, three overhead message boards also will be replaced. They'll be swapped out with color LED boards because it's getting difficult to find parts for the amber-lighted boards, McShaffrey said.

Interstate 275 in Tampa will get wider bridges to ward off traffic snarls, increase safety 04/22/12 [Last modified: Sunday, April 22, 2012 11:04pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Ousted to political Siberia by Corcoran, Kathleen Peters sets sights on Pinellas Commission

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — The perks of power in Tallahassee are a coveted chairmanship, a Capitol office in a prime location and a prominent seat on the House floor. Now Rep. Kathleen Peters has lost all three, but here's the twist: Her trip to "Siberia" might actually help her reach the next step on the Tampa Bay political …

    Rep. Kathleen Peters, R-South Pasadena, has been relegated to the back row in the State House chamber, moved to a fouth floor office and stripped of her job as chairwoman of a House subcommittee after a series of disagreements with House Speaker Richard Corcoran. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]
  2. What do kids need to stay away from deadly auto theft epidemic?

    Public Safety

    ST. PETERSBURG — More than a dozen black teenagers told U.S. Congressman Charlie Crist on Wednesday that children need stronger mentors and youth programs to steer clear of the auto theft epidemic plaguing Pinellas County.

    Congressman Charlie Crist (center) listens as Shenyah Ruth (right), a junior at Northeast High School, talks during Wednesday's youth roundtable meeting with community leaders and kids. They met to discuss the ongoing car theft epidemic among Pinellas youth and how law enforcement, elected officials, and community organizations can work together to put an end to this dangerous trend. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]
  3. Manahattan Casino choice causes political headache for Kriseman


    ST. PETERSBURG — Days before the mayoral primary, Mayor Rick Kriseman's decision to let a Floribbean restaurant open in Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino has caused political angst within the voting bloc he can least afford to lose: the black community.

    Last week Mayor Rick Kriseman chose a Floribbean restaurant concept to fill Midtown's historic Manhattan Casino. But that decision, made days before next week's mayoral primary, has turned into a political headache for the mayor. Many residents want to see the building's next tenant better reflect its cultural significance in the black community. [JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times]
  4. Bucs talk social issues, protests at team meeting


    TAMPA — Each time Dirk Koetter walks through the door of his office at One Buc Place, he passes by the only jersey framed on his wall.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans (13) wears custom cleats to represent Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE) as part of the NFL???‚??„?s "My Cause, My Cleats Campaign" before the start of a football game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, Calif., on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016.
  5. UPS relocates express operations from St. Pete-Clearwater to TIA


    TAMPA — United Parcel Service Inc. is switching airports for its express air operations. Beginning in October, UPS will relocate from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport.

    Beginning in October, UPS will move from St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport to Tampa International Airport. [Associated Press file photo]