TAMPA - UPDATE: Changes to some I-275 on-ramps will be in place by Thursday, January 3. Tampa Street/Kay Street traffic will need to yield to Ashley Drive traffic on the ramps before entering southbound I-275. Once traffic from these ramps has merged into one, there will be a shorter distance to merge into the southbound I-275 mainline traffic. These changes are expected to somewhat improve traffic flow on southbound I-275 during construction.
In order to make these changes, FDOT's contractor plans to close the entrance ramps to southbound I-275 from Tampa/Kay streets and Ashley Drive from 10 PM Wednesday, January 2 to 5:30 AM Thursday, January 3. Traffic on Tampa/Kay streets will be directed south on Tampa Street, turn right and go west on Tyler Street, merge onto Cass Street and continue west to North Boulevard, turn right onto North Boulevard to Cypress Street, turn left onto Cypress Street and go west to Howard Avenue, turn right and go north on Howard, then turn left and use the entrance ramp at Armenia Avenue under the interstate. Ashley Drive traffic will follow the same detour, beginning by turning left onto Tyler Street.
Southbound traffic on I-275 south of the Hillsborough River was shifted to the left on November 8, a traffic pattern that will be in place for about 18 months. The right exit to Himes/Howard/Armenia was closed, and traffic exiting to Howard/Armenia now must use a left-hand exit, while traffic exiting at Himes still does so to the right (with an exit closer to HImes).
Here's a list of frequently asked questions about the I-275 reconstruction project between downtown Tampa and the Westshore area. If you have a question that hasn't been answered, tweet me @TampaBayTraffic or send an email through Facebook.
FDOT is rebuilding and widening 4.2 miles of I-275, from east of SR-60 (near the Westshore mall) to the Hillsborough River in downtown Tampa. The project will reconstruct all of the southbound interstate in the area, as well as northbound I-275 from east of SR-60 to Himes Ave. Three major traffic shifts will be required, the first occurring November 8, 2012.
Q: Wasn't I-275 JUST rebuilt?
A: No, the project to rebuild I-275 from Himes Ave. to the Hillsborough River was stopped. The original plan was to rebuild the entire corridor from SR-60 to the Hillsborough River as one project. But because of budget concerns, the project was split up into smaller projects. The first two projects have been completed, and include reconstructing I-275 between Himes and the river and a drainage project.
Q: What's happening on November 8?
A: There are three key points to the traffic shift, which will impact southbound I-275 from the Hillsborough River (near downtown) to Himes Ave.
- The Howard/Armenia exit will be located on the LEFT.
- The Himes exit will remain on the RIGHT, but will be located closer to Himes Ave. (approaching Dale Mabry).
- Traffic not exiting the interstate will use lanes that are further to the left.
Q: How long will the southbound I-275 exit to Howard/Armenia be on the left?
A: About 18 months (beginning in November, 2012). In summer, 2014, a new permanent right exit will be open at Howard/Armenia. An entrance ramp to I-275 also will be located to the right side.
Q: Why does the Howard/Armenia exit need to be switched?
A: The southbound portion of I-275 in the area, and the interchange ramps, will be demolished and rebuilt to current design and safety standards. Most of the rebuilding takes place in the same general alignment pre-project.
Q: Why is the temporary Howard/Armenia exit on the left?
A: The old entrance ramp to northbound I-275 from Howard/Armenia was left in place during the previous construction project. Utilization of the existing old ramp will allow for faster construction of the new southbound section of 275. Also, separating traffic from the construction zone is safer for motorists and construction crews.
Q: Where will the Himes exit be located?
A: The Himes exit will be about a mile south of where it is currently, and will be closer to Himes Ave. The long exit ramp currently used for Howard/Armenia and Himes will be closed.
Q: What happens after the traffic switch on November 8?
A: Crews will begin demolishing the old southbound lanes of I-275 and the bridges from west of North Boulevard to Himes Avenue. Then, new construction will get underway.
Q: When will be new lanes of southbound I-275 open?
A: The opening of the new lanes marks the start of the second phase of this project, and is expected to happen in about a year and a half. An additional lane will be completed during this second phase, and in about three years there will be four southbound lanes.
Q: What will be done on northbound
A: Construction will begin on the south side of I-275 in the cleared areas east of Westshore Blvd. to Dale Mabry Hwy.
Q: Will any roads be closed for construction?
A: Yes. The eastern portion of Green Street from the west side of North Blvd. to Willow Ave. will be closed PERMANENTLY on November 9.
Q: How much does this project cost?
A: $215.4 million
Q: When will the project be finished?
A: Fall, 2016
Q: What will the finished project look like?
- There will be four through lanes in each direction of I-275
- The roadway will be "flatter" and will not have the steep "humps" at bridges over crossroads. This is to improve sight distance and decrease the chance for accidents.
- Improved interchanges to and from I-275
- A wide median that can be used for future road improvements.
Q: What are the highlights of the southbound road construction?
- Wider bridges at Hillsborough River, North Blvd and Westshore Blvd.
- Replaced southbound bridges at Willow, Rome, Howard, Armenia, MacDill, Dale Mabry, Lois and Westshore.
- Replaced northbound bridges at Cypress St. and Himes Ave.
Q: What will the impact of construction be on traffic?
A: Three major traffic shifts will occur during the project. The shift on southbound I-275 at Howard/Armenia is the first. Closures will be needed on I-275, the interchange ramps, and streets under and next to the interstate. Most closures will be done during night hours, 10 p.m. to 5:30 a.m.
Here's a link to FDOT's project brochure. (PDF)