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