Sunday, April 26, 2009

Northbound Interstate 275 in Tampa on new alignment

If you have been by northbound Interstate 275 in Tampa from Himes Avenue (Exit 41C) to Downtown Tampa (Exit 44), things look a lot different! In fact, it almost looks like Interstate 4 in Tampa which has been recently reconstructed not too long ago.

In the early morning hours of Saturday, 25 April 2009, the northbound lanes of Interstate 275 in Tampa from Himes Avenue to Downtown Tampa were transitioned over to a new alignment (or a new traffic pattern). Here are some pictures I got on Saturday afternoon, several hours after the alignment switch took place.

Here are one of many variable message signs in St. Petersburg warning motorists of the new traffic pattern in place on northbound Interstate 275 in Tampa and that major delays are possible. After all, the Florida DOT did not want to take any chances.

Next we see one of the many new signage erected for Exit 42, Armenia and Howard Avenues. This is on the temporary transition road that takes northbound Interstate 275 motorists from the old northbound lanes to the new northbound lanes.

Continuing on the new alignment for northbound Interstate 275 we see new signage for the exit to Armenia and Howard Avenues as well as the distances to Downtown Tampa (via Exit 44, Ashley Drive and Scott/Tampa Streets) and Interstate 4. Notice that the signs are mounted on a new gantry just like what was done on Interstate 275 at Interstate 4 as well as Interstate 4 east of Interstate 275. Here motorists are reminded that the right lane is an exit lane for Armenia and Howard Avenues.

Next we see the final opportunity for Armenia and Howard Avenues from northbound Interstate 275. Notice that this exit has two lanes rather than the original one lane exit and it is a dedicated ramp rather than the side street you had to enter right after you exit in the past.

We're now past Armenia and Howard Avenues and our next exit is Downtown Tampa (which is signed simply as Downtown, Exit 44) coming up in one mile, while the entrance to eastbound Interstate 4 (Exit 45B) is coming up in two miles. Right after this sign gantry things on northbound Interstate 275 level out better than the old "roller coaster" effect of the old northbound lanes.

We're now getting our first destinations for Downtown West on Exit 44. As the sign indicates, use Tampa Street to reach the Tampa Convention Center or Ashley Drive to reach the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. Notice that the sign gantry is a little different here as it is supposed to accommodate a future variable message sign similar to the variable message signs found on Interstate 275 not only in Tampa but St. Petersburg as well. I got to agree here, this sign mounted on an overhead gantry is much easier to read and interpret than its ground based counterpart on the old northbound lanes.

Next up is Downtown East, also on Exit 44. Use Scott Street to reach the St. Petersburg Times Forum (shortened on the sign to St. Pete Times Forum) as well as the Florida Aquarium located in the Channelside area. Once you get off onto Scott Street, follow it east until you get to Jefferson Street. Right on Jefferson Street and follow the signs for the St. Petersburg Times Forum and/or the Florida Aquarium.

Another note as we go along: Why did the Florida DOT construct a retaining wall to the right on the new Interstate 275 northbound lanes? The view of Downtown Tampa was splendid on the old Interstate 275 northbound lanes.

Here's the intermediate signage for Downtown Tampa. Presently the "exit only" panels have been greened out as a temporary measure as construction is still taking place (as of April 2009) so that the lanes can be marked as through traffic lanes. When this is all said and done, when you get to this sign gantry you will choose which Downtown Tampa destination you are headed to. But I got to admit, this new segment of Interstate 275 in Tampa is much better than the old segment due to the "roller coaster" effect which was how the original highway was built back in the early 1960's. After all, modern Interstate highway construction of the 21st Century incorporates a smooth ride by design which also makes the highway safer for everyone.

Finally, we come to our last overhead sign which was erected as part of the new northbound Interstate 275 project. Here we see the final opportunity for Downtown Tampa with its two lanes (one lane for Scott Street and the other lane for Ashley Drive and Tampa Street). Like the previous photo, the "exit only" panels have been greened out as a temporary measure until the construction is finished. Interstate 4 is just around the corner after this exit and we also see through signage for northbound Interstate 275 to Ocala, which is via Interstate 275's parent, Interstate 75.

Again, I got to admit the signage on the new northbound Interstate 275 alignment is much better to read and better to interpret than the old. On the older signage the messages seem to be crammed together.

Now this new alignment of northbound Interstate 275 is part of a major Interstate 275 reconstruction puzzle which will run from the Tampa International Airport exit (Exit 39, FL 60) all the way to Downtown Tampa at Exit 44. However, the old Interstate 275 northbound lanes will be getting some temporary use: The old northbound lanes will soon become the temporary southbound lanes for Interstate 275 while the permanent southbound lanes for Interstate 275 are being reconstructed. If you have seen a fence on the stub end of the new northbound Interstate 275 alignment at Himes Avenue, the fence is not permanent - west of Himes Avenue will be another segment of a reconstructed Interstate 275.

When all the pieces of the Interstate 275 reconstruction puzzle in Tampa from Tampa International Airport to Downtown Tampa are done, Interstate 275 will have a total of eight lanes - four lanes in either direction. To keep up with the progress of Interstate 275 in Tampa as it is slowly being reconstructed you may want to visit the Florida DOT's site for Interstate construction in the Tampa Bay area,

And one more thing: Keep an eye out on your speed while traversing the construction zones on Interstate 275. The Florida Highway Patrol is very keen about enforcing the speed limits and speeding fines are doubled for exceeding the speed limit in a construction zone, especially when construction workers are present.

The pictures you see here today will eventually make it onto the website soon. However, it is having to undergo more recoding as my web hosting provider is discontinuing support for the FrontPage Server Extensions and the photos - organized as a photo gallery which indeed depends on the FrontPage Server Extensions - will have to be recoded in HTML. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures and feel free to comment.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

nice post and thanks for sharing....

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