Sunday, April 22, 2007

The ramp to Interstate 375 is back!

After so many weeks, the ramp from Interstate 275 southbound to Interstate 375 (Exit 23A) is back!

While on my way to a Devil Rays game at Tropicana Field I read the electronic overhead sign just before 54 Av N (Exit 26) stating that the ramp onto Interstate 375 is still closed. Then, as I approach 22 Av N (Exit 24) I notice the construction workers changing the portable variable message sign letting motorists know that the ramp to Interstate 375 has reopened!

Interstate 375 is back!!!

So, I checked it out as it was on my way to The Trop. The contractor who did the emergency repair did an excellent job of restoring the ramp to a condition that is better than before. I got to admit it, I got to give credit to the Florida DOT for their efforts in getting a very important piece of Interstate 275 repaired and reopened to traffic in the shortest time possible.

After all, lots of motorists use the ramp from Interstate 275 southbound to Interstate 375 for plenty of reasons and it sees plenty of use in the mornings during the morning commute. For the past few weeks those commuters that have used Interstate 375 to get to where they need to go downtown were somewhat inconvenienced by having to take a detour out of the way by using Interstate 175, Interstate 375's partner immediately to the south.

From what I understand, I believe the Florida DOT may be upgrading signage in the area to reflect the fact that the exit ramp is 50 mph and the ramp is a left exit. If and when the signage upgrade takes place, motorists should be advised as far as 38 Av N (Exit 25) that a left exit is coming up giving some ample opportunity for motorists to change lanes if needed to avoid the exit ramp if desired. Presently there is very inadequate warning of the left exit and reduced speed other than a small posted Exit 50 mph sign mounted on the left side as you approach Interstate 375. The same signage upgrade should also be done for Interstate 375's partner in downtown St. Petersburg, Interstate 175 as it also features a left exit and inadequate speed reduction warning signage.

Moreover, as I mentioned in my previous post when Interstate 275 at Interstate 375 and 5 Av N was constructed in 1977, the ramp to both roads should have been done as a right exit like most of the other exits on Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg. Had it been constructed this way perhaps tragedies such as the tanker truck collision on Interstate 375 may have been avoided.


wslupecki said...

Just to relate to the I-375 incident of course is the mass headache drivers in Oakland must face due to a similar tanker incident at the notorously congested MacArthur Maze near the Oakland Bay Bridge. In this incident, two heavily traveled interstate connectors were badly damaged. The upper I-580 connector, in fact, collapsed onto the lower I-880 connector due to the intense fire and heat. Like the I-375 incident in St. Pete, CalTrans (the DOT in California) is working as fast as they can to get both connectors reopened. On May 7, the I-880 connector finally reopened, leaving many frustrated commuters relieved. The I-580 connector will remain closed until the end of the May. My point is this, both the I-375 St. Pete and the MacArthur Maze tanker incidents are both very similar in terms of highway damage, though the I-375 accident was less severe and of course occured in a much smaller municipality than Oakland. I am certainly looking forward to any signage improvements that FDOT makes for the I-375 exit (23A) the interchange needs to have better warning of the left exit. Similar in nature to the left-hand exit notification already in place along I-4 east at 50th Street. In addition, I believe there should be additional left-hand exit notice at nearby Exit 22 on I-275 south, as that is also a left exit.

wslupecki said...

Here is a long-awaited update. I was driving down I-275 south today, when I noticed that the proxy signs for I-375 now boast the yellow "left" exit stubs. Similar in nature to the 50th St left exit ramp on I-4 east. I believe this improvement will help motorists change lanes in a reasonable amount of time. However, I believe the same should have been done with the I-175 left exit. This was not the case though. I hope FDOT will eventually give this same treatment to Exit 22 south and other left exit situations along all the interstate highways in the state so that there may be less chance of motorist confusion in the future.

wslupecki said...

This is an update to my last comment regarding I-275 in downtown St Pete. It looks to be that FDOT is installing the "left" exit panels on all four left exits along I-275 in Pinellas County. All the I-375 exit signs are equipped with the new tabs, and new tabs are gradually being installed along signs for I-175. I reckon that the tabs will also show up at the 31st St S and Pinellas Bayway (northbound) exits within the next several months, as they too are left exits.