Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Memorial exit detour to Courtney Campbell awaits commuters next week

TAMPA — Afternoon rush-hour is about to get more hectic for thousands of motorists heading home to Clearwater as the Department of Transportation prepares to move an exit ramp from one side of northbound Memorial Highway to the other.

The shift, set for 5:30 a.m. Wednesday if weather permits, means drivers heading northbound on Memorial will need to move to the right lanes to take the Courtney Campbell Parkway.

The triple-lane left exit drivers currently use will be shut for a few months so workers can rebuild lanes leading to the exit.

When finished, motorists will have both a right and a left exit to the Courtney Campbell from northbound Memorial.

The changes are part of the $214 million reconstruction of roads near Tampa International Airport. The project is expected to be finished by the end of the year, four months ahead of schedule.

"For a while it seemed we'd take a couple of steps forward and then a step backward with having to build temporary lanes, but now all the steps are forward," DOT spokesman John McShaffrey said.

Also on Wednesday, traffic on northbound Memorial will be shifted to what now is part of the highway's southbound lanes. The four-lane road will have new lighting and fewer curves and bumps.

Officials anticipate the exit-ramp switch will not go as smoothly, despite a campaign of public announcements and electronic signs announcing the changes starting Monday.

"There will be some people, we're sure, that will miss that exit and try to make some sudden lane changes," McShaffrey said.

The resulting crisscrossing is almost certain to stir up confusion and trigger delays, especially during afternoon rush-hour as thousands of Clearwater-bound drivers try to decide within seconds which lane to use.

If they miss the exit, they'll get only one chance to turn around, at Independence Parkway a half-mile up the road, before ending up on the Veterans Expressway and being forced to pay a toll. It's 25 cents to exit at the Hillsborough Avenue toll plaza.

"We'll try to do the best we can with signs, but we know some folks will miss the signs and be distracted," McShaffrey said.

A similar lane shift sparked massive traffic headaches last fall on southbound Memorial Highway. Drivers trying to get to Tampa International Airport and the West Shore business district discovered the exit ramp had been switched to the highway's left side so workers could build a new ramp to the airport.

Some confused drivers pulled over. Others found themselves trapped on the triangular no-man's land between the exit and the highway. The gridlock turned a 30-minute commute for some into a hours-long slog.

McShaffrey isn't expecting that same level of confusion this time around, but he anticipates some delays. About 24,500 drivers take the Courtney Campbell exit from northbound Memorial each day.

"The signs will be coming out there on Monday. They'll be like a count-down clock, announcing a traffic switch is coming in X-number of days, so people are prepared," he said. "I think most of them will get it."

On the Web

An animated graphic showing the lane change is at

Memorial exit detour to Courtney Campbell awaits commuters next week 08/13/09 [Last modified: Thursday, August 13, 2009 11:35pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Trigaux: How Moffitt Cancer's M2Gen startup won $75 million from Hearst


    TAMPA — A Moffitt Cancer Center spin-off that's building a massive genetic data base of individual patient cancer information just caught the attention of a deep-pocketed health care investor.

    Richard P. Malloch is the president of Hearst Business Media, which is announcing a $75 million investment in M2Gen, the for-profit cancer informatics unit spun off by Tampa's Moffitt Cancer Center. Malloch's job is to find innovative investments for the Hearst family fortune. A substantial amount has been invested in health care, financial and the transportation and logistics industries.
  2. A boat lays on its side off the shore of Sainte-Anne on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, early Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, after the passing of Hurricane Maria. [Dominique Chomereau-Lamotte | Associated Press]
  3. 7.1 magnitude quake kills at least 149, collapses buildings in Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A magnitude 7.1 earthquake stunned central Mexico on Tuesday, killing at least 149 people as buildings collapsed in plumes of dust. Thousands fled into the streets in panic, and many stayed to help rescue those trapped.

    A woman is lifted on a stretcher from of a building that collapsed during an earthquake in Mexico City, Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. [Rebecca Blackwell | Associated Press]
  4. FHP seeks semitrailer truck driver that left fiery wreck on I-75


    TAMPA — The Florida Highway Patrol is looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an Interstate 75 crash that left another car burning on Tuesday afternoon.

    Troopers were looking for the driver of a semitrailer truck that sped off from an accident scene on Interstate 75 in Tampa on Tuesday afternoon that caused a car to catch fire. [Courtesy of Florida Highway Patrol]
  5. Joe Maddon gets warm reception in return to the Trop

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — The night was arranged to honor former Rays manager Joe Maddon in his first visit back to the Trop, and the standing ovation from the bipartisan crowd and scoreboard video tribute seemed proper acknowledgments of his hefty role in the Rays' success during his nine-year stint.

    Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon (70) talks with reporters during a press conference before the start of the game between the Chicago Cubs and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017.