Sunday, August 25, 2013

What Counties does Interstate 75 (and 275) pass through in Florida?

Here's a little trivia and other stuff that I would like to feature from time to time right here on the Interstate 275 Florida Blog.  Today I would like to feature the names of the various Florida counties that Interstate 75 passes through, including Interstate 275 in the Tampa/St. Petersburg area.
I'd thought I would like to work my way northbound starting at the American national southern terminus of Interstate 75, which is at FL 826 (also known as the Palmetto Expressway) in Miami-Dade County.  After all, Interstate 75 is a major Interstate highway which spans not only Florida but Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio and Michigan, ending at the Canadian border north of Exit 394, Easterday Avenue, in Sault St. Marie, Chippewa County, Michigan.
So, here we go northbound on Interstate 75 from FL 826 in Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida:
Miami-Dade (Miami)
Broward (Ft. Lauderdale)
Collier (Naples)
Lee (Ft. Myers)
Charlotte (Port Charlotte/Punta Gorda)
DeSoto (just the extreme southwest corner for less than a quarter of a mile)
Manatee (Bradenton)
Pinellas (Interstate 275 only; St. Petersburg)
Hillsborough (Tampa)
Pasco (Wesley Chapel)
Sumter (Wildwood; northern terminus of the Florida Turnpike)
Marion (Ocala)
Alachua (Gainesville)
Columbia (Lake City, junction of Interstate 10)
Florida/Georgia State Line - north of Hamilton County, Florida is Lowndes County, Georgia (Valdosta)
Did you know?
Interstate 75 was supposed to go through Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties before traversing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and linking up with the Interstate 75 bypass route in Manatee County?  When it was proposed that Interstate 75 was to be extended south to Miami from Tampa the bypass route around Tampa was supposed to be called Interstate 75E.
A lot of factors came into play in why we are one of the metropolitan areas in the United States that has a 2-di as the bypass route and a 3-di being the main route through:
1.  Sometime after the extension of Interstate 75 to Miami from Tampa was proposed, AASHTO - the American Association of State Highway Traffic Officials, the gatekeeper of all Interstate route numbering in conjunction with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) - made a change to the standards for Interstate route numbering:  No more suffixed letters after the number.  That meant the Florida DOT cannot have an Interstate 75E signed.
Just in case you are wondering, Interstates 35E and 35W in the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex in Texas and Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota were grandfathered before the AASHTO prohibition on suffixed Interstate route numbers.
2.  The Florida DOT's desire to keep through truck traffic out of the metropolitan areas of Tampa and St. Petersburg once Interstate 75 was extended to Miami.
By the way, Interstate 275 is known on official Florida DOT documentation as FL 93, which covers the entire 472-mile distance of Interstate 75 through the state.  The Tampa bypass which we know today as Interstate 75 is known on official Florida DOT documentation as FL 93A.
3.  And we can't forget the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, back in its early days as a twin cantilever span with the steel grid deck in the center.  These twin cantilever bridges would have required major retrofits in order to bring the bridges up to interstate standards.
However, 9 May 1980 - the day the Skyway fell - changed the plan somewhat.  For a while after the Sunshine Skyway disaster it was proposed that Interstate 275 would not have incorporated the Sunshine Skyway; that completely changed when it was decided that the cable stayed bridge we know today would be the replacement for both twin cantilever spans.
Today, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is not only an integral part of Interstate 275, it also carries US 19 as well.  And it passes through three counties:  Pinellas on the north, Hillsborough in the center span, and Manatee on the south.
Now you know your Florida counties that Interstate 75 passes through, including Interstate 275!  Be sure to stick around for more trivia and other stuff that I may feature from time to time right here on the Interstate 275 Florida Blog!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Interstate 275 Tampa Mainline Closure Alert

If your travels take you on Interstate 275 going by the Westshore Blvd. interchange (Exit 40A), you need to read this.  I have seen the variable message overhead signs letting motorists know of an upcoming temporary closure on Interstate 275 in Tampa.
According to Tampa Bay Interstates (the official source for Tampa Bay area interstate construction from the Florida DOT), the Interstate 275 mainline will be closed at Westshore Blvd. (Exit 40A) from 11:30 PM Tuesday evening, 20 August 2013 to 5:30 AM Wednesday morning, 21 August 2013.  The mainline closure is being done as part of the mega-reconstruction project taking place on Interstate 275 in Tampa from FL 60 to the Hillsborough River just west of the Ashley/Tampa/Scott interchange complex (Exit 44), which is supposed to be completed sometime in 2016.
So, what detour do you follow when the Interstate 275 mainline in Tampa is closed during the above hours?  Here is the detour you should follow, according to Tampa Bay Interstates:
Northbound Interstate 275:  You will be directed off at Exit 39 (FL 60). Use the Kennedy Blvd. exit, not the exit for Tampa International Airport.  Follow Kennedy Blvd. east to Westshore Blvd.  At Westshore Blvd. turn north and you can rejoin Interstate 275 northbound there.
If you are headed to Tampa International Airport from St. Petersburg, you should not be affected by the upcoming Interstate 275 mainline closure as all traffic will be diverted from the northbound Interstate 275 mainline to the Exit 39 collector-distributor ramp.  However, be sure to allow extra time and leave early, especially if you are headed to TIA to catch your flight.
Southbound Interstate 275:  You will be directed off at Exit 40A, Westshore Blvd.  Make a right at Westshore Blvd., then a left at Cypress Street (that's the first traffic signal after getting off of Interstate 275).  West on Cypress Street until you get to the overpass for FL 60.  Turn left after going under the overpass to rejoin Interstate 275 southbound.
Headed to Tampa International Airport from southbound Interstate 275 in Tampa:  You will be directed off at Exit 40A, Westshore Blvd. as mentioned previously.  Instead of going west on Cypress Street, proceed north on Westshore Blvd. until you get to Spruce Street (FL 616).  Left on Spruce Street, but be in your right lane after you make the turn.  Follow the overhead signage to Tampa International Airport.
If you are headed to Tampa International Airport to catch an early morning flight, plan ahead and leave early to account for any traffic delays you may encounter on the way.  Additionally, check with your airline for any specifics regarding your flight.
Like all major construction projects, sometimes there will be some inconveniences involved but in the end, we will have an Interstate 275 in the Tampa/St. Petersburg metropolitan area we can be proud of.