TAMPA, Fla. — The Florida Department of Transportation will start work on a major project Monday as it begins the multi-year process of widening a busy section of I-275.
“That’s a long time! I just hope they get it right," said Michelle Johnson.
She drives I-275 and admits traffic on that road can be frustrating.
“Busy in the morning at lunchtime and at 5 o’clock," she said. “I mean yeah sometimes depending on if you got to go pick up your kids, be on time for work."
The $85.3 million project will expand a 2.5 mile stretch of I-275 from I-4 north to Hillsborough Ave. by adding a lane on both the northbound and southbound sides.
“There are a lot of people moving to Florida every day, and especially the Tampa Bay area, and that’s a wonderful thing for our economy, but it also means we have more congestion in our area, so this project is really needed," said Kristen Carson, a spokesperson for FDOT District Seven.
More than a decade after the project is done, the state says there should be a 14.2% reduction in accidents on the stretch of I-275 by 2035, with an 8.5% reduction in crashes involving injuries or fatalities.
“We should see a reduction in crashes. We should see travel times that will improve, speeds that will improve out there. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of crashes out there, but hopefully, by adding this extra capacity, we’re going to increase the safety and increase the traffic flow out there," Carson said.
Additionally, FDOT says traffic should flow better with an "average speed increase of 48% for the AM Peak hour and 18% during the PM Peak hour."
The work will take more than four years to complete and should be done by early 2026.
FDOT says work will be going on day and night, but the most disruptive work and lane closures will be scheduled at night.
The project also includes barrier walls, which will be put up along both sides of I-275, which should lessen some of the noise from the interstate for the homes on the adjacent frontage roads.
The state also plans to widen many of the ramps between I-4 and 275 starting in 2023.