Monday, February 25, 2013

Interstate 275 Tampa Permanent Ramp Closure Alert

If you are used to exiting southbound Interstate 275 at Lois Avenue (Exit 40B) in Tampa, you will want to read this.

According to Tampa Bay Interstates, the Florida DOT's website for interstate highway construction in the Tampa Bay region, on Tuesday, 26 February 2013 at 5 AM the exit ramp to Lois Avenue from southbound Interstate 275 will be closed permanently.  This closure is needed so that the reconstruction of Interstate 275 from FL 60 (Exit 39) to downtown Tampa can take place in this area.

When it's all said and done in 2016, the vicinity where the southbound Lois Avenue exit ramp is located will become an exit ramp to westbound Cypress Street, according to ABC Action News.  Cypress Street is an east-west road and Interstate 275 crosses it in a northeast-southwest direction; the overpass is situated between Lois Avenue and Dale Mabry Highway.

The overpass was originally built as two bridges, one for northbound traffic and one for southbound traffic, in 1962 when it used to be Interstate 4.  The overpass assumed its Interstate 75 designation upon completion of the segment from Bearss Avenue (Exit 53) to just north of today's Interstate 4 (Exit 45B) in 1967 and later assumed today's Interstate 275 designation when widening in the area from four to six lanes on the Interstate 275 mainline converted the Cypress Street overpass from two bridges into one bridge so that the median can be converted from a traditional grass median to a concrete Jersey barrier wall in 1975.

Today, this overpass has well served its purpose and new overpasses are being constructed at Cypress Street and Interstate 275.  Perhaps you drive by there and you have seen the pilings being driven into the ground that will support the new overpass.

When the ramp to Lois Avenue from southbound Interstate 275 is closed, here's the detour per Tampa Bay Interstates:  Exit at Westshore Blvd. (Exit 40A) and turn right.  Turn right at the first traffic signal on northbound Westshore Blvd., which will be Cypress Street.  Go east on Cypress Street and Lois Avenue will be at the second traffic signal.

I know, we have to endure a lot of inconveniences such as closures and detours but if we want a widened Interstate 275 in Tampa, the benefits will pay off.  A plus of the improvements taking place is that there will be room in the center median for - hopefully - light rail or commuter rail as part of a rail based mass transit system connecting Tampa with St. Petersburg; besides, a rail based mass transit system in the Tampa Bay region is desperately needed if we want to be competitive with Miami/Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando in this slowly rebuilding economy.

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