Interstate 275 (Florida)

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Interstate 275 marker

Interstate 275
Route information
Maintained by FDOT
Length: 60.237 mi[1] (96.942 km)
Existed: 1973 – present
Major junctions
South end: I‑75 near Palmetto
  I‑175 in St. Petersburg
I‑375 in St. Petersburg
I‑4 in Tampa
North end: I‑75 near Wesley Chapel
Location
Counties: Manatee, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco
Highway system
SR 273 SR 276
Old I-275 shield in St. Petersburg

Interstate 275 (I-275), located in Florida, is a highway, 60 miles (97 km) long, serving the Tampa Bay Area. Its southern terminus is at Interstate 75 near Palmetto, where I-275 heads west towards the Sunshine Skyway Bridge crossing over Tampa Bay. From that point, I-275 passes through St. Petersburg before crossing Tampa Bay again on the Howard Frankland Bridge, then continues through the city of Tampa, where it connects to an interchange with Interstate 4 in Downtown Tampa. After the interchange, I-275 passes north through the Tampa suburbs to its northern terminus at Interstate 75 in Wesley Chapel.

Interstate 275, and its parent route Interstate 75, follow the opposite of the usual conventions of freeway routing. Normally, the parent route runs through a metropolitan area while an interstate with a three-digit number (beginning with an even number) serves as the bypass route. However, in this case I-275 runs through Tampa and St. Petersburg, while I-75 serves as the bypass route.

Route description[edit]

Southern Terminus to St. Petersburg[edit]

Interstate 275 begins at exit 228 of Interstate 75 with two lanes in either direction in rural Palmetto. 275 immediately heads west of its parent interstate and has an interchange US 41 2 miles (3.2 km) up the road. I-275's next interchange is with US 19, beginning a concurrency that lasts 13 miles (21 km). After this exit, I-275 reaches the Southern toll plaza for the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. There is a corresponding Northern toll plaza for southbound travelers. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a 4.1 mile long bridge that spans Tampa Bay. After reaching the northern end of the bridge, 275 enters St. Petersburg.[2]

St. Petersburg[edit]

At the northern end of the bridge, drivers briefly drive on the left side as the freeway's lanes invert for about half a mile (about 1 km) before US 19 exits the freeway,[3] serving as a local road in St. Petersburg. I-275 has multiple exits in the city, each of them serving the residential neighborhoods that the freeway passes through. At this point, the interstate widens to 3 lanes in either direction. 275's next major interchange is with Interstate 175, which provides access to Albert Whitted Airport and Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays.[4] The next major interchange occurs less than a mile down the road with Interstate 375, providing access to the waterfront along Tampa Bay.[2] After this exit, I-275 continues through residential neighborhoods until it passes beside Sawgrass Lake Park and then through an area of marshland. The freeway widens to four lanes in either direction before reaching its last interchange in St. Petersburg with SR 687. After traveling 19 miles (31 km) in St. Petersburg, I-275 crosses the Howard Frankland Bridge over Old Tampa Bay into Tampa.[2]

Tampa[edit]

I-275 has an interchange with SR 589, allowing access to Tampa International Airport.[5] At this point, I-275 thins down to three lanes in either direction, and remains this way for the rest of the freeway.[6] 275 then has an interchange with US 92, the first of two interchanges with the road, allowing access to downtown Tampa. 275 then crosses the Hillsborough River for the first time along its route. Afterwards, 6 miles (9.7 km) from its entry into Tampa, I-275 has its next major interchange with Interstate 4, a junction known locally as Malfunction Junction.[2] This junction was always clogged with daily rush hour traffic and was subsequently overhauled.[7] This interchange serves as I-4's western terminus, and allows access to Orlando and the east coast of Florida. After this major exit, 275 reaches an interchange with US 92 again, also allowing access to US 41. After this interchange, US 41 acts as the service road for the freeway for the rest of its route.[8] 275 crosses the Hillsborough River a second time and enters residential neighborhoods within Tampa. 275 travels due north and parallel to US 41 for 4 miles (6.4 km) before turning northeast towards Interstate 75.[2] At this point, 275 exits Tampa and enters Lutz, a suburb of Tampa. 60 miles (97 km) after its southern terminus with I-75, I-275 reaches its northern terminus with I-75.[2][9]

Lane configurations[edit]

  • Between southern terminus and Exit 17: two lanes each way excluding the toll plaza
  • Between Exit 17 and Exit 30: three lanes each way
    • Between Exits 22 and 23A: two lanes each way
    • Between Exits 25 and 26: four lanes each way, with the right lane in both directions designated "exit only"
  • Between Exits 30 and 39, including the Howard Frankland Bridge: four lanes each way
  • Between Exit 39 and northern terminus: mostly three lanes each way
    • Throuh Exit 39 two lanes in each way
    • Southbound I-275 two lanes for most I-275 I-4 interchange

History[edit]

Initial construction in Tampa[edit]

I-275 originally opened in 1962 as a segment of I-75, from the present northern terminus to a diamond interchange at Bearss Avenue. The portion of Interstate 4 that would later become a part of I-275, the Howard Frankland Bridge, and its short freeway stubs at the bridge's endpoints, opened to traffic about a year earlier. In 1964, the stub of what was then known as I-4 between 50th St. (through "Malfunction Junction") and Armenia Avenue was completed. "Malfunction Junction's" northern end was a pair of ramp stubs that would later be filled in by I-75. In 1965, the segment of I-75 from "Malfunction Junction" to about Sligh Avenue was completed, and by 1967, the remaining gaps in I-4 and I-75 were filled and opened to traffic.

Controversy and repeated delays in Pinellas[edit]

Around 1970, plans for the extension of I-75 into Pinellas County began. However, the first round of local opposition would lead to the eventual (and repeated) delays of I-75 through St. Petersburg. The first setback was led by 4th Street business owners and residents who demanded that construction on I-75 be stopped, since the bridge was already funneling unwanted traffic into the corridor. It has since seen many unforeseen business and residential booms, due to the building of this bridge. At the same time, construction began on I-75 from Roosevelt Boulevard to about 38th Avenue North. By this time, I-4 was truncated to "Malfunction Junction," allowing the I-75 designation take over the freeway from the junction to 4th Street North. This segment was opened to traffic in 1973, with the gap between Roosevelt and 9th Street filled in a few years later. Around this time, I-75W was resigned I-275, and after some more local opposition, I-275 was constructed to meander down to 5th Avenue N, near downtown St. Petersburg, in 1975.

The original plans called for I-75 to end in Tampa

One of the largest setbacks for I-275 occurred in the mid-1970s when it was proposed to go through southwest St. Petersburg towards the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Heavy community opposition delayed construction for several years. Eventually, numerous homes and businesses were torn down and several churches were relocated. Financial burdens through this part of the project caused further delays. However, I-375 opened partially to traffic in 1979, with full operation by 1981, and I-175 opened up in 1980.

With both downtown feeders now open, I-275 was extended to 28th Street South. However, another round of community revolts delayed the segment of I-275 between 28th Street South and 22nd Avenue South. In spite of the delay, the stretch was built by 1981. Exit 20 was configured for an anticipated westward expansion to a planned Pinellas Beltway. A freeway revolt killed many of Pinellas County's freeways during the 1970s, and repeatedly delayed the construction of I-275. In addition, the Summit Venture disaster on May 9, 1980, during which the freighter Summit Venture took down one of the two spans and killed 35 people, reduced a portion of I-275 to two lanes until the opening of the present bridge in April 1987.

In 1982, the segment between 22nd Avenue South and 39th Avenue South was opened to traffic. The Pinellas Bayway/US 19 interchange, opened to traffic in 1983-84, is inverted for about half a mile. The reason for this configuration is unknown; however, to this day, traffic continues to flow smoothly through the interchange with very little congestion. At about the same time this interchange opened, I-275 was completed from the Sunshine Skyway Bridge to the southern terminus with I-75 in Manatee County.

When the new Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened in 1987, the final link of I-275, between US 19 and the bridge, was completed and opened to traffic.

Reconstruction and later changes[edit]

The segment of I-275 between the Veterans Expressway and Himes Avenue was widened from four to six lanes in 1974. Additionally, a median barrier was built along the highway from Himes Ave to Downtown Tampa.

I-275 entering Downtown Tampa

Until the 1980s, the Memorial Hwy./Veterans Exwy. interchange was only a half diamond, and the West Shore Blvd interchange was a full diamond. Both interchanges underwent drastic changes to allow safe, free-flowing movement to and from Tampa International Airport and the Veterans Expressway. Among the improvements, three free-flowing exit and entry ramps were added to the expressway from I-275. The exit ramp from I-275 south to the Veterans Expressway northbound was reconstructed, and the ramp from Memorial Highway northbound from Kennedy Blvd. onto northbound I-275 was removed, along with the two western ramps onto West Shore Blvd. (truncating the West Shore interchange to a half-diamond), in order to deter accidents that were being caused by commuters entering and exiting the interstate from the Veterans Exwy. In addition, connections from I-275 north, to Cypress St. were made (though the ramps are under-utilized today). In 2004, the ramp from southbound Veterans Exwy to southbound I-275 was realigned in order to ease congestion on the mainline lanes of the interstate.

I-275 just leaving Downtown Tampa heading south towards Tampa International Airport

In 1984, the Himes Ave. exit/entrance was constructed. The exit was originally rumored to supplement a failed redevelopment project in the area during that time. Today, the Himes Ave. connection serves as reliever for nearby Raymond James Stadium.

In 1991, following the expansion of the Howard Frankland Bridge, the 4th St. N interchange was reconstructed.

In 1994, the two drawbridges on the northern approach to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, dating to the original twin Skyway bridges, were replaced with high-level fixed spans, eliminating bottlenecks caused by openings.

Between 1994 and 1998, there were no major projects taking place on the highway, and I-275 saw very few changes. The hiatus ended in 1999, when a much needed, dual-stage, widening project took place between Busch Blvd. (State Road 580) and Bearss Ave. The project widened I-275 mainline from four to six lanes, rehabilitated the existing concrete surfaces, and improved interchange flow, lighting, signage, and drainage. The project was completed in 2003.

The northern toll plaza to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge was relocated south of the approach bridge in 2000 due to a lack of capacity. The original plaza only allowed three lanes, while the replacement allows six lanes to flow through, with the sixth lane dedicated to SunPass users.

In 2001, the widening project for I-275 between Gandy Blvd and Roosevelt Blvd began. The project increased I-275 from six to eight lanes, and its existing concrete surfaces were rehabilitated. A reconfiguration of the Roosevelt Interchange (Exit 30) started in 2001 and added access to 118th Ave. N at the same interchange. The new connection to 118th Ave. N is the first phase of a proposed freeway to connect I-275 to the Bayside Bridge (although it is unclear if future segments will be built). All construction in this area was completed by 2002. Reconstruction of I-275 between Roosevelt Blvd. and 4th St. N quickly followed the widening project. Lane counts on I-275 were increased from four to mostly six lanes (with some eight-lane segments). The Ulmerton Rd. and 9th St. N interchanges were originally narrow 1959 configurations that caused much congestion in the area.

Additionally, the 9th/MLK St. N exit and Ulmerton Rd. entrance ramps were situated in the left lane of I-275, causing dangerous weaving patterns. These interchanges were reconstructed into right-lane configurations, and two new ramps were added from Ulmerton Rd. (one leading to 9th St. N and one exiting onto southbound I-275). The southbound I-275 exits to Ulmerton and MLK St. N were combined into one exit ramp to provide better flow. The MLK St. N interchange was shut down for several months as a result of the reconstruction. Finally, the ramps to and from 118th Ave. N were opened to traffic. The entire reconstruction project along I-275 in the Gateway area was completed in 2005.

In 2003 operational improvements began for the notorious "Malfunction Junction" in downtown Tampa. The project consisted of widening mainline I-275 and I-4, along with an array of ramp and bridge improvements, lighting and drainage work, and new signs. The entire project was completed on December 22, 2006, with ITS components installed by March 2007. The renovation of the I-4 corridor through Ybor City was finished around summer 2007, almost one year ahead of schedule.

I-275 at "Malfunction Junction"

The staged reconstruction project for I-275 between the Howard Frankland Bridge and downtown Tampa was supposed to begin in the summer of 2006. However, bids received by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) for the project came in at $100 million (40%) over the projected estimates, which was blamed on the rising cost of asphalt and other materials, which was, in turn, partly blamed on the rising oil prices worldwide. As a result, FDOT commenced with the project in four smaller phases, rather than the original, large-scale, two-phase project. Construction began on phase one, the northbound lanes (south of the existing interstate) between Himes Ave and downtown Tampa, on August 13, 2007, and was completed in April 2010.[10] Phase two, which includes construction of the northbound lanes from the West Shore area to Himes, was originally scheduled to begin in 2008, but was delayed further. The third phase will consist of transferring northbound traffic onto the new northbound lanes, southbound traffic onto the existing northbound lanes, and the construction of the new southbound lanes from Himes to downtown. Finally, the fourth and final phase will construct the new southbound lanes from the West Shore area to Himes. The entire project was originally scheduled to be completed by around 2013 or 2014, but it was extended until fall 2016[11] and will cost an estimated $540 million, an increase from the original $350 million budget.[12]

Between Himes Avenue and downtown, southbound (westbound) traffic was shifted on to the original northbound lanes. However, those wishing to exit at either the Howard/Armenia or Himes Avenue exits continue on the original southbound lanes. Those exiting on Himes Avenue have one dedicated lane in the original southbound lanes. Traffic entering the freeway from Armenia Ave. now does so on the original northbound exit ramp. This creates an odd left-lane merge situation. However, to help motorists in this effort, the entrance ramp has a dedicated lane from the freeway entrance until just over the Himes Avenue bridge. Traffic heading northbound on Howard Avenue must now turn left onto Green Ave., left onto Armenia Avenue, and then right onto the entrance ramp in order to enter the freeway. While this setup is temporary, it has somewhat improved traffic flow in the area, as motorists who intend to exit at Howard/Armenia or Himes now exit the freeway much earlier.

In January 2011, construction began on widening the northernmost segment of I-275 from US 41 (Nebraska Ave.) to the I-75 apex from four to six lanes. The project also includes constructing a dedicated flyover ramp over I-75 towards State Road 56.[13] This ramp, along with a new, extended ramp from I-75 to SR 56, opened on August 18, 2011.[14]

On February 4, 2011, a new ramp connecting northbound I-275 to 118th Ave. N opened. This project began in July 2009 and involved widening the existing ramp from northbound I-275 to Roosevelt Blvd., and is being performed in conjunction with the project to build the Mid Pinellas Expressway, which has suffered numerous delays due to a lack of funding.[15]

Other improvements[edit]

Other sections not requiring a full scale reconstruction have undergone improvements.

  • Concrete rehabilitation from 62nd Ave. N to Exit 17 in Pinellas County, complete, 2001-2005
  • Resurfacing from the Howard Frankland Bridge to Himes Ave. (Exit 41C), complete, 2002
  • Resurfacing from the US 41 overpass (Exit 53) to I-75 junction in Lutz, complete, 2003
  • Resurfacing from the Howard Frankland Bridge to 4th St. N, complete, 2006
  • Concrete rehabilitation/bridge upgrade/lighting improvements from "Malfunction Junction" to Busch Blvd, complete, 2007
  • Concrete rehabilitation from 26th Ave. N to Exit 23, complete, 2008)
  • Rehabilitation at Exit 28, complete, 2008
  • Resurfacing between Exit 17 to the Misner Bridge in Pinellas County (currently ongoing)[16]
  • Widening of the northbound exit ramp at Exit 51 in Hillsborough County (currently ongoing)[17]

The segment of I-275 in Manatee County has not changed dramatically since its construction in 1983, other than a toll plaza upgrade in the late 1990s, and resurfacing of the mainline lanes between the I-75 apex and the US 19 exit. It is unclear if any other improvements are planned at this time.

Naming of the highway[edit]

In November 2005, The Florida Legislature dedicated the section of I-275 in Pinellas County as the "St. Petersburg Parkway/William C. Cramer Memorial Highway". William Cato Cramer was a native of St. Petersburg who served as a member of the Florida Legislature from 1955 through 1971. He helped to procure the building of I-275 through Pinellas County.[18]

Services[edit]

Interstate 275 has two rest areas, one at each end of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Both rest areas, each accessible by traffic in both directions, have rest rooms, vending machines, picnic tables, dog walk areas and nighttime security. These rest areas also provide access to the fishing piers, for an extra fee.

Exit list[edit]

County Location Mile[1] km Old exit[19] New exit Destinations Notes
Manatee   0.000 0.000 I‑75 (SR 93 south / SR 93A north) – Naples, Tampa
  2.279 3.668 1 2 US 41 (SR 45) – Palmetto, Bradenton
Terra Ceia 4.728 7.609 2 5 US 19 south (SR 55) – Palmetto, Bradenton South end of US 19 / SR 55 overlap; southbound exit and northbound entrance
5.8[20] 9.3 South Toll Plaza (northbound only)
  6.9[20] 11.1 2A South Skyway Fishing Pier; Rest Area
Tampa Bay 8.021–
12.164
12.909–
19.576
Sunshine Skyway Bridge
Pinellas St. Petersburg 12.9[20] 20.8 2B North Skyway Fishing Pier; Rest Area
13.567–
13.855[20]
21.834–
22.297
Structure B over Bunces Pass
14.7[20] 23.7 Scenic View (northbound only)
15.1[20] 24.3 North Toll Plaza (southbound only)
15.579–
16.116[20]
25.072–
25.936
Structure A over Gulf Intracoastal Waterway
16.968 27.307 3 16 Skyway Lane / Pinellas Point Drive
17.424 28.041 4 17 US 19 north / SR 682 west (Pinellas Bayway) / 54th Avenue South – St. Pete Beach North end of US 19 / SR 55 overlap; northbound left exit
19.447 31.297 5 18 26th Avenue South Northbound exit and southbound entrance
19.699 31.702 6 19 22nd Avenue South (CR 138) Southbound exit and northbound entrance
20.377 32.794 7 20 31st Street South Northbound exit and southbound entrance (both on the left side)
20.697 33.309 8 21 28th Street South Southbound exit and northbound entrance
21.651 34.844 9 22 I‑175 east (SR 594) – Tropicana Field
22.412 36.069 10 23A I‑375 east (SR 592) – BayWalk, The Pier Signed as exit 23 northbound
22.418[20] 36.078 11 23B SR 595 (5th Avenue North) Southbound exit and northbound entrance
23.440 37.723 12 24 22nd Avenue North
24.466 39.374 13 25 38th Avenue North (CR 184)
25.492 41.025 14 26 54th Avenue North (CR 202) Signed as exits 26A (east) and 26B (west) northbound
27.695 44.571 15 28 SR 694 (Gandy Boulevard) – Pinellas Park, Seminole no access from I-275 south to SR 694 east or SR 694 west to I-275 north
29.614 47.659 16 30 SR 686 (Roosevelt Boulevard) / CR 296 west (118th Avenue North) – Largo
30.751[20] 49.489 17 31 Martin Luther King, Jr. Street (CR 803 south) Southbound exit and northbound entrance; formerly exit 31A
30.933 49.782 18 31 SR 688 west (Ulmerton Road) No northbound exit; formerly exit 31B
31.580 50.823 19 32 SR 687 south (4th Street North) to US 92 Southbound exit and northbound entrance
Old Tampa Bay 33.797–
36.803[20]
54.391–
59.229
Howard Frankland Bridge
Hillsborough Tampa 38.422 61.834 20A 39 SR 60 east (Kennedy Boulevard) / Westshore Boulevard (CR 587) Northbound exit and southbound entrance; formerly exit 39A
38.959 62.698 20 39 SR 60 west to SR 589 (Veterans Expressway) / Cypress Street – Clearwater, Tampa International Airport, formerly exit 39B (old 20B) northbound
39.424 63.447 21 40A Westshore Boulevard (CR 587) Southbound exit and northbound entrance
40.056 64.464 22 40B Lois Avenue
40.638 65.401 23 41 US 92 (Dale Mabry Highway / SR 600) Signed as exits 41A (west) and 41B (east)
40.910 65.838 23C 41C Himes Avenue Southbound exit and northbound entrance
41.978 67.557 24 42 Armenia Avenue / Howard Avenue
43.243 69.593 25 44 Downtown West (Ashley Drive / Tampa Street), Downtown East (Scott Street) former southbound exit is now part of exit 45A
43.664 70.270 26 45A Downtown East (Jefferson Street), Downtown West (Ashley Drive / Tampa Street) Southbound exit and northbound entrance; signed as "Downtown East–West"
44.256 71.223 27 45B I‑4 east (SR 400) – Orlando
44.683 71.910 28 46A Floribraska Avenue Southbound exit and northbound entrance
45.416 73.090 29 46B SR 574 (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard)
46.426 74.715 30 47 US 92 (Hillsborough Avenue / SR 600) to US 41 south Signed as exits 47A (east) and 47B (west) northbound
47.437 76.342 31 48 Sligh Avenue
48.267 77.678 32 49 Bird Street / Waters Avenue (CR 587A) Northbound exit and southbound entrance
48.984 78.832 33 50 SR 580 (Busch Boulevard) – Temple Terrace
50.480 81.240 34 51 SR 582 (Fowler Avenue) – University of South Florida, Temple Terrace
  51.487 82.860 35 52 CR 582A (Fletcher Avenue / SR 579) – University of South Florida
  52.776 84.935 36 53 Bearss Avenue (SR 678)
  59.462 95.695 59 SR 56 – Land O' Lakes, Tarpon Springs single northbound ramp that merges with I-75 exit 275
Pasco   60.237 96.942 I‑75 north (SR 93) – Ocala
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Route map: Google / Bing