Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New way to get to the Interstate 275 Florida Blog and New Year's Eve

2010 is just about to come to a close and 2011 will be on the horizon. With New Year's Eve approaching there will be a lot of people out there ringing in 2011!

First, a new way to get to the Interstate 275 Florida blog. All you have to do is to type in in your browser's address bar and that will take you straight to the Interstate 275 Florida Blog! Of course I have also updated the link to the Interstate 275 Florida Blog right from my blog intro page on and you can also get here using that link if you would like. Just another way I make content easier for you to access here at

If you have a bookmark to the Interstate 275 Florida Blog, you may want to update it to reflect the new URL address. This is important, especially if your bookmark to this blog has the domain name address as the domain will be retired soon.

OK. Let's move on to a more important subject concerning New Year's Eve, and that is celebrating New Year's Eve responsibly.

Last year around this time I posted some helpful tips on celebrating New Year's Eve safely inspired by a Bay News 9 article on this subject. I recently expanded this topic and turned these tips into a PDF document which is available on simply by clicking on this link. It's easy to celebrate the holidays safely, and it's not just restricted to New Year's Eve.

I put these tips here every year as a reminder of the most common danger of being out and about on New Year's Eve, especially out there on Interstate 275: Drinking and driving. I post these tips out there as a public service in the hope that needless accidents can be prevented.

As a reminder, if your New Year's Eve celebrations include drinking, please, please do one of three things:

1. Designate a driver.

2. Call a taxi to take you home. You can retrieve your car the next day.

3. Spend the night at a hotel or a friend's house. Even if rates are high for New Year's Eve or any other major holiday, it's much better (and much cheaper) to pay for a room at the Hilton Downtown St. Petersburg Bayfront or any other hotel than face the consequences of DUI if you are caught. (Ask yourself: Would you rather pay $120 for a hotel room or $20,000 for taking a chance by drinking and driving?)

Again, do yourself a favor and if you had even one drink, don't get behind the wheel and drive! Let's start 2011 on the right note!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Over the River and Through the Woods…

If your Thanksgiving plans involve any road travel over the Thanksgiving weekend, here are a few tips you may want to take with you as you prepare to make your way safely to Grandma’s House (or anywhere else) for Thanksgiving dinner:

First, and foremost, make sure that your vehicle is in tip-top condition for the road. This is very essential, whether it’s just a local trip or a cross-Florida trip using Interstate 275 leaving the Tampa Bay area. This includes, among other things:

Checking your car’s fluids including the oil level and the windshield washer fluid.
Checking your vehicle’s spare tire to be sure it’s in good condition in case you need it.
Making sure that you have filled up your fuel tank.
Checking the tire pressure on your tires and making a quick check for any defects.
Making sure that all lights work, including the headlights.
If you have one of those vehicles that has an OnStar system, check to see if it works. (Press the black phone button and you should hear the response, “OnStar Ready”. If you hear that, you are good to go.)
Making sure that your SunPass is topped up, especially if toll roads are part of the trip.

OK. The car is loaded, and your family is on your way to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving. Here are some more tips to get you to Grandma’s safely:

Plan out how you will get there. You can use Google Maps or your favorite map program out there on the Internet.
Get a good night’s rest – you will need it.
Stay within the speed limit – there’s nothing gained by going faster than the flow of traffic.
If you have a handheld cell phone, please don’t use it while driving. Instead, have your passenger handle the cell phone calls for you or, if you are driving alone, wait until you have stopped in a safe place.
Pay attention to the gigantic green signs mounted over the highway, especially when you are approaching a metropolitan area such as the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Pay special attention to the word “Left” in black letters on a yellow background above the exit number sign – this indicates a left exit and you should prepare in advance!
Once you exit Interstate 275 or any other limited access highway, adjust your speed accordingly to the speed limit for the road you have exited onto.
If you have a long road trip to Grandma’s, consider taking a break for every three to four hours of driving. Feel free to stop at a rest area, service plaza, an interstate interchange oasis such as Exit 329 from Interstate 75 (FL 44), or even go into a small town if it’s close by.
Most importantly, don’t drink and drive! Drunk driving: Over the limit = under arrest!
Move over for emergency vehicles!

Now if in the event you break down on your way to Grandma’s, help is just around the corner:

If your vehicle is equipped with OnStar, press the red emergency button and wait for the OnStar operator to answer.
If you have a handheld cell phone, make sure that you are stopped in a safe place and call *347. Also use *347 (that’s *FHP) to report drunk and/or aggressive drivers as well.
If you are on any section of Interstate 75 or on Interstate 275 south of Exit 5 (US 19 South) or north of Exit 53 (Bearss Avenue), you will see motorist aid call boxes. Simply pull the door down, press the button for service, release the door and return to your vehicle.

Most importantly, as the Thanksgiving holiday weekend takes place including the busiest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, area highways including Interstate 275 will be crowded. Just make sure to plan ahead and leave early in order to arrive at your destination in a timely fashion.

As Thanksgiving is the gateway to the holiday season, have a happy Thanksgiving and a wonderful holiday season! Be careful out there on Interstate 275 and drive safely!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Dr. Edward Cole Highway

If you have driven Interstate 175 in downtown St. Petersburg lately you may have noticed two yellow-on-brown signage in the median, one by the pedestrian overpass if you are headed east and one just before 6 St S if you are headed west. It turns out, when I recently watched a Bay News 9 story, that Interstate 175 was designated as the Dr. Edward Cole Highway.

Do you know who Dr. Edward Cole is?

First and foremost, Dr. Edward Cole was a prominent pediatrician here in St. Petersburg for many years. According to the Bay News 9 article, most people living here in St. Petersburg were cared for by Dr. Cole in their childhood. Back in the days when pediatric health care wasn’t that complicated, St. Petersburg area parents put their faith and confidence in Dr. Cole when their children got sick. In today’s world of health care, it’s hard to find a doctor that can understand your health issues.

Not only Dr. Edward Cole was a prominent St. Petersburg pediatrician, he also served on the St. Petersburg City Council as a Councilmember. Dr. Cole was instrumental in getting the City of St. Petersburg to donate the acreage of land in downtown St. Petersburg so that the University of South Florida (USF) can expand their St. Petersburg Campus to what it is today.

Besides, USF’s St. Petersburg Campus is easy to find. In fact, you see the welcoming monument the moment you come off of Interstate 175 at 4 St S to your right. As you transition from Interstate 175 to 5 Av S (which is a one way road going east; from 4 St S to 3 St S it’s a one block stretch of state highway known as FL 594 which connects into northbound FL 687 at 3 St S), you see more of the USF campus with the parking garage and a Barnes & Noble Bookstore that caters to USF St. Petersburg’s students. Directions to the USF St. Petersburg Campus are well signposted on 5 Av S as you come off of Interstate 175.

Back in the USF St. Petersburg Campus’ heydays, it was just a small campus consisting of a few buildings jutting out into Bayboro Harbor adjacent to the Albert Whitted Airport. Today the campus has grown by leaps and bounds and is an important part of downtown St. Petersburg.

All of this USF St. Petersburg expansion would not have been possible without the vision and encouragement of St. Petersburg’s most prominent pediatrician and city council member. After all, Dr. Cole had a knack of spending money on something that was truly needed – in other words, if you don’t need it don’t spend your money on it.

Now Interstate 175 will bear Dr. Edward Cole’s name as the highway that leads from Interstate 275 to downtown St. Petersburg including Bayfront Medical Center, the new All Children’s Hospital and – what Dr. Cole championed for as a St. Petersburg City Council member – an expanded USF St. Petersburg Campus.

From all of us Interstate 175 users out there that use the highway for commuting to work in downtown St. Petersburg, taking classes at USF St. Petersburg, seeing our primary care doctors based out of Bayfront or All Children’s, or whatever: Thank you Dr. Cole!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Changes coming to northbound Interstate 275 at Exits 39A and 39B

Changes are around the corner for those of you that are headed to Tampa International Airport from St. Petersburg on northbound Interstate 275!

For many years, you used Exit 39A to reach Kennedy Blvd. (FL 60) and Tampa or Exit 39B to reach Tampa International Airport as well as Clearwater or the Veterans Expressway. Well, on 7 September 2010 that’s going to change.

Recently the Florida DOT has made improvements to the off ramp system for Exit 39 from northbound Interstate 275. The new improvements call for traffic headed to either Kennedy Blvd. or Tampa International Airport to exit from one point which will be further west of where you used to exit for Kennedy Blvd. (Exit 39A). Once you enter the new exit ramp you will be presented with a choice for either Kennedy Blvd. (which will branch off to the right) or Tampa International Airport (which will be straight ahead).

What does this mean for you?

This will organize all traffic on northbound Interstate 275 headed for either Kennedy Blvd. and nearby Westshore Plaza or Tampa International Airport, rather than have traffic leave Interstate 275 at two exit points within Exit 39. It’s sort of a collector and distributor ramp in that the collector part is traffic exiting from Interstate 275 northbound and the distributor part is traffic headed to either Kennedy Blvd. or Tampa International Airport. Doesn’t that make sense?

When the new ramp opens, the A/B designations will no longer be in effect and Exit 39 from northbound Interstate 275 will be known as just that, Exit 39. As for the page on, I’ll be making the updates as soon as the exit ramp is fully open to traffic.

Now I want to hear from you about the new northbound on Interstate 275 at Exit 39 experience. Is it a change for the better or is it confusing?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Reflections on the Sunshine Skyway Tragedy 30 Years Ago

9 May.

In 1921 Sophie Scholl, the principal force behind the White Rose movement in Germany during World War II, was born.

In 1955 West Germany joins NATO.

In 1974, The United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee begins formal impeachment proceedings against President Richard Nixon in the Watergate Scandal.

In 1980:

Slovenia was not an independent nation yet – it was still a constituent republic of Yugoslavia, which was mourning the death of its longtime leader Josip Broz Tito earlier on 4 May 1980.

The Cuban boatlift was still going on, with refugees pouring in to the United States on boats coming out of Mariel Harbor.

Meanwhile, in the mouth of Tampa Bay, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge was a classic twin cantilever span ready for yet another day. Another day of motorists driving across the bridge (and having to dread the steel grid deck) to get where they want to go. Another day of ships coming into and out of the Port of Tampa. Besides, being a Friday it’s the end of another work and school week.

The time: 5:43 AM. The date: Friday, 9 May 1980. The place: The shipping channel between Egmont Key and Ft. DeSoto Park.

When ships come into or out of the Port of Tampa, they have to be guided in or out by a harbor pilot so that these ships can be safely navigated through Tampa Bay and into the Port of Tampa. Back then, there was a major obstacle: The old Sunshine Skyway Bridge with its 864-foot center span, which was long enough for ships of the 1950’s. Aboard a pilot boat out of Egmont Key, harbor pilot John Lerro reported to duty aboard a vessel that came inbound from Houston a few days earlier; that vessel is the Summit Venture, a 606-foot freighter coming in to Tampa to take on a load of phosphate for somewhere in a distant part of the world.

Everything seems OK, until a severe thunderstorm arrives sometime after 7 AM. Visibility was reduced to zero and that had John Lerro concerned. Would he miss the critical turn at Buoys 1A and 2A to avoid the Sunshine Skyway’s tall channel piers? After all, when you are on Interstate 275 and visibility drops to near zero, you take any and all measures to prevent a collision such as exiting the highway and waiting somewhere until the rain lets up.

Then, at 7:38 AM on Friday, 9 May 1980, Interstate 275 Florida history would change forever, as far as the Sunshine Skyway is concerned.

The rains kept raging on preventing any visibility whatsoever. Then – out of nowhere – the Summit Venture was on a collision course with the southbound span of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and its Support Pier 2-S, the anchor pier just south of the main channel Pier 1-S that anchors the south cantilever and provides the transition from through truss to deck truss. John Lerro, the harbor pilot, tries everything to stop the ship from colliding with the bridge including reversing the engines and dropping the anchor.

Then impact.

Compare the impact to a soda can as it related to a compact car. The compact car has more mass than the soda can. Therefore, upon impact the soda can is crushed by the mass of the compact car. The same thing with the Summit Venture upon impact with Pier 2-S: After all, Pier 2-S was not designed for impact from a large vessel and, upon impact, Pier 2-S was sheared off its supports like a heavy sword.

Upon loss of support by Pier 2-S, the impact started a chain of events which would result in the deck truss from Pier 3-S northward plus the through truss from Pier 2-S to the point north of Pier 1-S (the main channel pier to the south of the shipping channel) collapsing into the churning waters of Tampa Bay below, including the south anchor arm and cantilever arm. This left behind the suspended center span which was being held up by the north cantilever arm and anchor arm but the northern arm could not take the load of the suspended center span on its own. The suspended center span fell into Tampa Bay as well.

In the end, thirty five people lost their lives that fateful morning including a few on a Greyhound bus headed for Miami. There were only two survivors: Richard Hornbuckle, who managed to stop his Buick Skylark a mere 14 inches from the abyss on the northern arm and Wesley McIntire, who drove off the broken end of the southbound span and survived by swimming to the top and being rescued by the Summit Venture crew.


I was going to a private high school on the day the Sunshine Skyway fell, and I was getting ready for school that morning. Back in 1980, we did not have Bay News 9 yet (in fact, my house did not have cable service yet – just an outdoor antenna receiving Channels 8, 10 or 13). Instead, I had a little AM radio tuned to WSUN-AM 620 listening to music while I was getting ready for school. Suddenly, Ronald J. Evin, the news director for WSUN at the time, came on with a special bulletin: A ship was ready to hit the Sunshine Skyway Bridge.

Well, I thought, it was probably another boat that would bump into the fender system and the Sunshine Skyway’s southbound span would still be there. Or as I thought.

Once at school the TV was on and tuned to WTVT Channel 13, which was a CBS affiliate at the time. (Remember the programming that used to be there from a long time ago when WTVT was a CBS affiliate? Things have changed substantially now, but that’s another story). Once I saw the pictures for the first time I was totally shocked: The southbound span of the Sunshine Skyway was gone. I could not believe it!

Two days later, when the northbound span was converted to handle two way traffic my mother, grandmother and I took a Sunday ride to check out the damage: A southbound span that was damaged beyond imagination, and a tall channel pier that stood out from the rest of the mail channel piers on the Sunshine Skyway – Pier 1-S – which would stand out as an icon of the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge for the next several years. Everyone else was checking it out too.

Besides, my mother was doing the driving – I haven’t received my driver’s license yet. The car I had was a 1974 Ford Mustang II and all it had was just an AM radio – no AM/FM/CD like you see in today’s cars and SUV’s. Besides, WMNF 88.5 FM was on the air but did not have a Sunday afternoon polka show yet – it would be another year before the show premiered. The radio was fixed onto WSUN AM 620 just like my little radio at home.

30 years later, things have changed over the years since the Sunshine Skyway tragedy.

First of all, I graduated from high school in 1983 and I had to write a senior year thesis. The subject? The Sunshine Skyway Bridge, from building to collapse. My knowledge and research of the subject earned me an A+. After high school came college a few months later.

In 1981, there were decisions that had to be made as far as the Sunshine Skyway is concerned. Rebuild the cantilever bridge or replace it with a new bridge? Florida Governor Bob Graham made the decision that would change the signature of Tampa Bay forever: A new, cable-stayed four lane Sunshine Skyway Bridge that met interstate highway standards. After all, Interstate 275 was built all the way to Queensboro Av S in south St. Petersburg with another section getting underway which would extend the highway to 39 Av S with interchanges at 22 Av S (Exit 19) and 26 Av S (Exit 18) and the ultimate goal was to connect Interstate 275 with the newly extended Interstate 75 to Naples and Miami. Besides, the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge did not meet interstate standards.

Construction on the new Sunshine Skyway began in 1982, and I was yet on another trip to Europe, this time to Belgium and Holland as part of a European study tour given by my high school.

On 30 April 1987, the new Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened to traffic. A week later, I would graduate from St. Petersburg College with my Associate in Science degree, receiving my diploma at what used to be the Bayfront Center in downtown St. Petersburg. A few months later I would start working for the City of St. Petersburg.

Just a few weeks after the tenth anniversary of the Sunshine Skyway tragedy, I experienced a personal tragedy of my own: I lost my grandmother to an accident involving a drunk driver on the morning of Friday, 25 May 1990. Things have changed for me drastically – it was just my mother and I together in the same home.

A year later, in 1991 Jodie Foster – who would go on to win a second Academy Award for best actress in Silence of the Lambs – begins her directorial debut in Little Man Tate, which was my most favorite Jodie Foster movie of all time. At the same time, the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge was demolished, leaving behind segments which would be converted into fishing piers later.

In 1994, the hit television series ER premieres. That same year, I began work on my second Associate in Science degree at Hillsborough Community College, this time in Legal Assisting. While my education was in full swing with a full time job underway, another of my favorite actresses comes on the ER scene, and that was the introduction of the head of the emergency department of Cook County General, played by Laura Innes.

For the next several years, ER would be riding high on the viewer ratings. Then in 1998 the Tampa Bay Rays (which used to be known as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays) began their first season of baseball at Tropicana Field. For me, I graduated from Hillsborough Community College with what I wanted: A second Associate in Science degree in Legal Assisting.

Two years later, in March 2000 I experienced another personal tragedy with the loss of my mother to a heart attack. In the midst of what was going on, I was taking an Internet class at Hillsborough Community College which I had to later drop due to my mother’s condition, and the birth of a website on the Internet:, which had pictures of Interstate 275 St. Petersburg pictures that I took with a traditional 35 mm camera and scanned them using a scanner. Three years later, in 2003 the pictures of Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg including the Sunshine Skyway Bridge would be moved into its new home: Since then I have expanded the content on to include all 59 miles of Interstate 275 in the Tampa Bay area, including the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, the Howard Frankland Bridge, and the two feeders into downtown St. Petersburg, Interstates 375 and 175.

As I write this blog entry, I paid a visit on Sunday, 9 May 2010 to the fishing pier on the northern end of the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge. The center section including its signature main channel piers is long gone, but as I was standing at the end of the fishing pier I began to realize the bridge that used to be from its beginnings in 1954 as a single span and the second span in 1971 to the collapse in 1980 and what happened afterward. I took a look around the fishing pier and bait shop and all I found was nothing more than a little poster put up by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection – the department responsible for Florida’s state parks and recreation areas including the Sunshine Skyway fishing piers – that told of the tragedy that took place on 9 May 1980.

Here’s a comment I left over at the St. Petersburg Times website discussing where people were when the Sunshine Skyway collapsed:

I have heard that there is some kind of memorial being put up at the fishing pier to remember the people whose lives were cut short by what happened. Perhaps a memorial - maybe a small obelisk structure consisting of a replica of the two tall channel piers (on the southbound span, the north channel pier - Pier 1N - had the identical look to their 1954 counterparts while the south channel pier - Pier 1S - had a different architectural look after repairs were made in 1969) - should be constructed as a memorial to the old Sunshine Skyway as well as the 35 people that perished that frightful morning. Besides, we remember people that we lost with monuments and memorials, especially World War II.

There’s already a memorial to the US Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn, which sunk just west of the old Sunshine Skyway in January 1980 after colliding with an oil tanker. I think the State of Florida ought to consider a memorial at the fishing pier of the old Sunshine Skyway Bridge, built with private donations, as a reminder of the tragedy that happened that fateful morning of Friday, 9 May 1980 and afterward as well as triumph with the construction of the new bridge.

Now I want you to share your memories of what happened 30 years ago on 9 May 1980 when the Sunshine Skyway collapsed. To do so, simply reply to this blog entry and it will be up after I moderate it, of course.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Get Ready for a Major Interstate 275 Southbound Switch in Tampa!

If you are one of those out there that use Interstate 275 southbound out of downtown Tampa, this blog entry is for you!

According to the folks over at the Florida DOT, starting Friday night (2 April 2010) at around 10 PM workers will begin closing one lane of southbound Interstate 275 from the Hillsborough River west of Ashley Drive/Tampa Street (Exit 44) to Himes Avenue (Exit 41C). About an hour later at around 11 PM, another lane of southbound Interstate 275 will be closed!

These lane closures are expected to severely impact traffic headed south on Interstate 275 towards St. Petersburg. In fact, traffic will be reduced to just one lane – that's right, just one lane to get by – and severe backups are expected as a result of the work.

The work is expected to last into Sunday morning, 4 April 2010. My advice if you are headed to St. Petersburg, Clearwater or Tampa International Airport from downtown Tampa or points east: Avoid Interstate 275 southbound out of downtown Tampa the majority of this weekend!

But don't worry, there are alternate routes to get you where you are going while the work on southbound Interstate 275 is taking place. Here are suggested routes out of downtown Tampa for those of you headed to St. Petersburg, Tampa International Airport or Clearwater:

St. Petersburg: Take the Selmon Crosstown Expressway west all the way to its end at Gandy Blvd. Once there continue west on Gandy Blvd. across the Gandy Bridge into St. Petersburg. Once across the Gandy Bridge continue west on Gandy Blvd. to Interstate 275. I know, there's a toll on the Selmon Crosstown Expressway but it's worth every dollar; if you got a SunPass transponder you'll save even more as toll prices are less for SunPass users vs. those who pay regular cash tolls.

Did I mention SunPass? If you use the Selmon Crosstown Expressway and you don't have one, you may want to consider investing in a SunPass transponder for yourself because the Selmon Crosstown Expressway is in the process of converting to all cashless toll collection. I could go on further but that is outside the scope of this blog entry.

Tampa International Airport or Clearwater: Follow Kennedy Blvd. (FL 60) west – that will take you to either location. Just be aware of the new signage and traffic patterns due to the recently wrapped up airport interchange reconstruction project.

OK. Now what is the purpose of the work that will substantially disrupt southbound Interstate 275 traffic this weekend out of downtown Tampa?

Several months ago northbound Interstate 275 traffic from Himes Avenue (Exit 41C) to the Hillsborough River and Ashley Drive (Exit 44) got switched over from the original northbound lanes that were built in the early 1960's to new northbound lanes. In preparation for reconstruction of the southbound lanes of Interstate 275 west of downtown Tampa traffic will be shifted from the southbound lanes over to the old northbound lanes.

How do we access Armenia/Howard Avenues (Exit 42) and Himes Avenue (Exit 41C) from southbound Interstate 275? That's pretty simple: One lane of the current Interstate 275 southbound lanes will function as an exit ramp for Exits 42 and 41C. However, traffic coming onto southbound Interstate 275 from Exit 42 will enter using the converted southbound lanes.

This means that you have to make your decision for Exits 42 or 41C before downtown Tampa. If in the event you miss this critical exit you will have to travel west towards Dale Mabry Highway (Exits 41A-B) or Lois Avenue (Exit 40B) and turn around at the interchange. Preplanning will be very crucial as you pass through this area of southbound Interstate 275 west of downtown Tampa.

These lane switches are part of a larger project where Interstate 275 west of downtown Tampa is being reconstructed. This is being done in stages due to the cost of construction. The Florida DOT's Tampa Bay Interstates site has more details on that project.

By the way, if you got caught in the major mess on southbound Interstate 275 this weekend I want to know of your experiences. It's as simple as leaving a comment to share your experiences.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Interstate 275 Blooper in St. Petersburg

I know, it's been a while since I posted something new here at the Interstate 275 Florida Blog. However, I came across something during my everyday travels right after I had my trusty car washed which amounts to a Florida DOT blooper:

This picture was taken on southbound 4th Street North (FL 687) at 22nd Avenue North, which is not too far from downtown St. Petersburg. Look at the sign to the right. Is there something amiss here?

If you said "yes", you are right!

Recently 4th Street North underwent a project which entailed upgrading the traffic signals not only at 22nd Avenue North but 30th Avenue North from the old span wire traffic signals to the more modern and much better mast arm traffic signals. Anytime you have a project like this signage will end up getting replaced.

Apparently the Florida DOT - the proprietors of 4th Street North as it is part of FL 687 - made a mistake on the signage directing motorists to Interstate 275 by way of 22nd Avenue North. Instead, signage to Interstate 75 somehow made it into St. Petersburg!

Now for a brief history lesson on Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg in the vicinity of 38th Avenue North and 22nd Avenue North:

Back when Interstate 275 opened in the vicinity of 38th Avenue North (Exit 25) in the mid-1970's, it was originally signed as Interstate 75. By the time Interstate 275 was extended to 22nd Avenue North (Exit 24) in 1974, Interstate 75 was rerouted to the bypass east of Tampa as we know today; at the same time Interstate 75 in St. Petersburg became Interstate 275.

For more on the history of Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg, feel free to click on this link to go over to the Interstate 275 St. Petersburg introduction page over at

Perhaps the Florida DOT needs to change out this sign and replace it with the proper route number that we know here in St. Petersburg: The sign should read "To Interstate 275", not "To Interstate 75". Besides, erroneous signage can lead to motorist confusion.

After all, this is St. Petersburg, and Interstate 75 does not go into St. Petersburg. Interstate 275 serves not only St. Petersburg and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, but Tampa including downtown Tampa and the Howard Frankland Bridge as well.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Howard Frankland Bridge and Cold Weather

The format of this blog post may be a little different as I am using Microsoft Word 2007's publish to blog feature, rather than writing the blog directly while logged into Blogger. You know, Microsoft inserts newer features and capabilities into their software such as Word 2007. So, I noticed that there is a blog posting feature which integrates seamlessly with Blogger and I thought I would give it a try.

Now for some important business, with the cold weather impacting the Tampa/St. Petersburg area this weekend (9-10 January 2010) and its potential for icing on overpasses and bridges including the Howard Frankland Bridge.

First, and foremost, Florida is not used to the problems with overpasses and bridges in cold weather like other states. During the winter months most state DOT's add a layer of salt to bridge decks in order to improve traction. Being a state that rarely sees snow, Florida does not put down salt on its bridges and overpasses. This is why in some states you may see a diamond warning sign which is unfolded in winter which lets motorists know that the bridge ices before the road.

This weekend it is supposed to get real cold, so much that it may break records and there is a possibility of sleet and ice, according to Bay News 9. According to the article, if you see any sign of ice on a bridge or overpass, drive with extreme caution or seek an alternate route.

The last time this has ever happened was back in 1977. After all, the Internet as we know today was not around yet and the Howard Frankland Bridge was just the single four-lane span that opened in 1960. I remember from those days when the Howard Frankland was closed due to ice that formed on the bridge. After all, motorist safety comes first especially when it comes to icing on a bridge.

The best way to keep safe during this weekend of cold weather is to plan ahead and leave early to get to your destination on time. Also make sure that your vehicle is in good condition for the cold weather and keep your gas tank full to avoid condensation in the tank. And make sure to dress appropriately for the weather, especially if in the event your vehicle breaks down and you have to wait in the cold.

Were you here in the Tampa Bay area when the cold spell of 1977 took place? I would like to hear from you – simply leave me a reply with your experiences!