TAMPA — Hurricane Ian is marching toward Florida, almost a Category 5 storm with sustained winds of 155 mph, with landfall expected between Fort Myers and Sarasota later this morning or early afternoon. Tampa Bay remains under threat of hurricane-force winds and heavy rain likely to cause flash flooding and power outages.
Residents should be hunkered down. But here’s a summary of the status of bridges and roads in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties.
Troopers advised drivers who need to be on the roads to check the Florida Highway Patrol Current Traffic Incidents. Local and regional officials recommend the Florida Department of Transportation’s FL511 website and app for real-time traffic information.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
The Florida Highway Patrol closed the Sunshine Skyway Bridge in both directions Wednesday morning after winds in the area associated with Hurricane Ian were clocked between 50 and 60 mph. The bridge will remain closed until the storm passes and the inclement weather subsides.
The Howard Frankland, and the two other bridges bridge connecting Pinellas and Hillsborough counties — the Gandy Bridge and the Courtney Campbell Causeway — are being monitored by the Florida Department of Transportation and law enforcement.
“We will close the bridges if the approaches get covered by water,” regional department spokesperson Kris Carson told the Tampa Bay Times Tuesday. She could not provide an estimate of when that will be. “We’re just going to have to monitor the storm.”
As of midday, all three bridges were still open.
On Monday, the Florida Department of Transportation announced the suspension of all lane closures in the Tampa Bay area.
Road and bridge contractors were instructed to temporarily suspend all operations on active construction projects within the projected path of Hurricane Ian. “All available lanes will remain open on the interstate and State Road system in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties,” according to a news release.
Most main thoroughfares remained open as of midday Wednesday.
A downed power line is blocking Hillsborough Avenue and 22nd Street in Tampa, according to traffic reports.
Hillsborough County emergency management officials said it is no longer safe to be on the road because of the potential for flash flooding and strengthening winds, as of Wednesday morning.
The county said residents should remain sheltered where they are and not attempt to relocate to an emergency shelter or any other location. If someone does experience an emergency, they should call 911 and report the issue. Emergency crews will respond when it is safe to do so.
The county’s public transit agency, known by the acronym HART, will cease fixed-route services at 11 a.m. Wednesday, according to an agency spokesperson. The agency ceased offering on-demand trips from mandatory evacuation zones A and B Wednesday afternoon.
The City of Tampa operates a road closure map but Brandie Miklus, the city’s infrastructure and mobility program coordinator, cautioned that the information may not be updated during the story.
Pinellas residents were strongly urged to shelter in place by midnight Tuesday.
The county’s public transit agency, known by the acronym PSTA, ceased fixed route bus services Tuesday evening. The agency is planning to resume all fixed route service beginning Saturday Oct. 1st.
On Friday, PSTA will be assisting the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center by providing evacuation services and the agency’s paratransit services will be providing essential medical transportation.
Pinellas County operates a road closure map which is currently showing no closures, other than the Sunshine Skyway Bridge which spans Lower Tampa Bay to connect St. Petersburg to Terra Ceia in Manatee County.
The county, which announced that evacuations in zones A, B and C, reported no road closures as of around 10 a.m. Wednesday.
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2022 Tampa Bay Times Hurricane Guide
HOW TO TALK TO KIDS ABOUT THE HURRICANE: A school mental health expert says to let them know what’s happening, keep a routine and stay calm.
WHAT TO EXPECT IN A SHELTER: What to bring — and not bring — plus information on pets, keeping it civil and more.
SAFEGUARD YOUR HOME: Storms and property damage go hand in hand. Here’s how to prepare.
IT'S STORM SEASON: Get ready and stay informed at tampabay.com/hurricane.
RISING THREAT: Tampa Bay will flood. Here's how to get ready.
DOUBLE-CHECK: Checklists for building all kinds of hurricane kits
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Rising Threat: A special report on flood risk and climate change
INTERACTIVE MAP: Search your Tampa Bay neighborhood to see the hurricane flood risk.