Some of you tried to get around this by using the Gandy Bridge (US 92) as an alternative. No can do, due to construction and backups on the eastbound span of the Gandy Bridge. (That's right, there is work going on at Gandy Blvd. in Tampa!)
There is indeed a widening project going on at Interstate 275 in Tampa. That’s right, we need it to help alleviate congestion. The first segment from just west of Ashley Drive/Tampa Street/Scott Street (Exit 44) westward to Himes Avenue (Exit 41C) is just the icing of the cake – it’s part of a bigger project to give Interstate 275 in Tampa a major overhaul.
On Monday, 25 February 2008 I came across one of Bay News 9’s “I-Polls” where you can vote and leave a comment. The topic was about how the construction on Interstate 275 in Tampa will bring needed relief. Well, I got some bad news for you: Even with the improvements made there will not be any congestion relief for Interstate 275.
First, here is a comment I left at Bay News 9:
The widening of Interstate 275 in Tampa will bring some relief but not the relief hoped for. It is going to take a twenty lane Interstate 275 at least to solve our traffic woes. But what we desperately need here in the Tampa Bay area is rail based mass transit and it is needed now - not five years, not ten years, not twenty years! No matter why corporations won't come to the Tampa Bay region and fewer people move here all because of lack of a workable mass transit system and increasingly unaffordable housing.
If you want to live close to work (and your place of work is in a downtown area like Tampa or St. Petersburg), forget it. Unaffordable housing in the Tampa Bay area is making people take commutes of an hour or more from outlying areas such as Pasco or Hernando Counties. Not only you are throwing money down the drain in commuting costs (when will we see gasoline top $4.00 a gallon? Count on it!), you are paying high insurance due to your long commute to and from work!
So you can’t find a place close to work that is affordable for you. You explore alternatives like our present day mass transit system provided courtesy of HART and PSTA. Unfortunately, your work schedule conflicts with the bus schedules, so a car is a must.
The result: A highly clogged Interstate 275 and you are stuck in traffic going nowhere.
Now for the real solution to the clogged Interstate 275 mess, even after it’s all said and done: Rail based mass transit. Baltimore has it. Washington, DC has it. Los Angeles has it. Ft. Lauderdale and Miami have it. And Orlando is going to be getting it soon. But the Tampa Bay area lacks a great rail based mass transit system.
Why rail? Buses are great but they are subject to the same traffic gridlock you and I are used to when we drive. Rail based mass transit would provide an excellent alternative to sitting in traffic on Interstate 275 all day. Besides, you can sit back and enjoy the trip to the office rather than be stressed out.
Rail based mass transit is what the Tampa Bay area really needs, rather than a twenty lane Interstate 275. Besides, land for any expansion of Interstate 275 is at a premium and it gets very expensive.
And rail based mass transit can provide a much needed boost to the Tampa Bay area economy. Complement that with a properly widened Interstate 275 and there you go.
By the way, if all goes as planned this segment of Interstate 275 being reconstructed in Tampa is slated to be done in 2010, according to the folks at the Florida DOT. Now I want to hear from you your Interstate 275 in Tampa experiences!