Feb 8, 2024 - News

The latest on Howard Frankland construction, other Tampa Bay road projects

An animated image of a hotel building going down in smoke.

The Florida Department of Transportation demolished the DoubleTree Hotel to make way for an overhaul of the oft-congested Interstate 275/State Road 60 interchange. Video: Florida Department of Transportation

Tampa Bay is making slow but steady progress on several road construction projects aimed at easing traffic between Tampa and St. Pete.

Why it matters: People keep moving here, and without more-robust public transit, we're stuck depending on our roadways.

Here are updates on three major projects:

Howard Frankland Bridge

If you've driven Interstate 275 with any regularity, the barges and cranes of this massive project are hard to miss.

  • The plan is to build a new eight-lane bridge with four regular southbound (Tampa-St. Pete) lanes and four express lanes, two going in each direction.
  • The existing southbound bridge will change directions to carry St. Pete-Tampa drivers. The existing northbound bridge will be demolished.

Yes, and: Car haters, rejoice. A biking and walking path are in the design plans, as is infrastructure to support light rail if that ever becomes a thing here.

What they're saying: "We're thinking this bridge will be here for 100 years, so we wanted to give some flexibility for users in the future," FDOT resident engineer Greg Deese told Axios.

The latest: The new bridge's foundation is more than halfway done, with many of the components being more than 90% complete. All 3,000-plus pilings — those tall, skinny concrete beams sticking out of the water — have been installed.

  • The contractor expects to switch traffic onto the new bridge by the end of this year, Deese said.
A rendering showing a pedestrian and bike path attached to a bridge overlooking the water. The path has decorate white features that look like sails.
A rendering of the pedestrian and bike path planned for the new Howard Frankland Bridge. Photo: Florida Department of Transportation

Gateway Expressway

Last time we updated you on this project, the completion date was slated for early this year.

Now, FDOT officials are projecting a little later, possibly the spring, construction manager Andrew Williams said.

  • The project will connect U.S. 19, I-275 and the Bayside Bridge in Pinellas County via two new toll roads.
  • Williams anticipates that FDOT will open both new roadways at the same time.

Westshore Interchange

Across the bay, plans to reconstruct the 10th circle of hell that is the I-275/State Road 60 interchange are still in the design phase.

  • The project will widen the interstate and add express lanes going in both directions. SR 60 will also be widened.
  • The plans include replacements for the flyover ramp from the Howard Frankland to westbound SR 60 toward the airport, and the loop ramp from eastbound SR 60 onto northbound I-275.

The intrigue: While construction won't begin until later this year, FDOT last month demolished the old DoubleTree Hotel off Cypress Street to make way for a staging area for the project. The lot will later house a giant drainage pipe.

  • The agency owns the lot and will maintain it in the meantime, construction manager Zachary Stringer told Axios.

The latest: Drivers passing through the area could start to see some movement by the end of this year, with major construction starting mid-2025, Stringer said. He noted the project is still in early days and the timeline could change.


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