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Interstate 275 or I -275 is an Interstate Highway in the US state of Florida. The highway is the main route through the urban area around Tampa. The highway begins at Bradenton and heads over the 6.7-kilometer Sunshine Skyway Bridge to the peninsula where the major metropolitan area surrounding St. Petersburg is located. The road then heads over the three-mile Howard Frankland Bridge to Tampa, the main town in the metropolitan area. In Tampa, the road turns north and merges with Interstate 75 at Land ‘O Lakes toward Atlanta. The highway is 102 kilometers long.
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I-275 at Hillsborough Avenue ( US 92 ).
Just north of the town of Bradenton, I-275 exits from Interstate 75. I-75 runs along the eastern side of the metropolitan area and is the fastest route to Tampa. I-275 also goes to Tampa, but via the metropolitan area around St. Petersburg. The highway runs west from here in 2×2 lanes, then joins the 6.7-kilometer Sunshine Skyway Bridge toll bridge over Tampa Bay to the peninsula on which much of the conurbation is built. The highway is the only rapid route through the Pinellas County metropolitan area, which is home to some 950,000 people. After the bridge, the highway has 2×3 lanes, and you pass St. Petersburg, a city of 250,000 inhabitants, and a second center of the agglomeration next to Tampa. The highway runs through southeastern Pinellas County, across the east side of the peninsula.
In St. Petersburg, two short branches branch off into the center of that city, namely Interstate 175 and Interstate 375. Both are barely 2 kilometers long. North of St. Petersburg, 2×3 lanes are also available, and the highway runs through a vast urban area. At Pinellas Park, one crosses Old Tampa Bay via the Howard Frankland Bridge, a 3 mile toll free bridge that leads to Tampa. It is the busiest bridge in the agglomeration. This bridge has 2×4 lanes.
Immediately after this span, SR-589 turns into Memorial Highway, a toll road that leads to the airport and Tampa’s northern suburbs. You then arrive at Tampa, a city of 342,000 inhabitants, the largest city in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area. Here too, 2×3 lanes are available, which become 2×4 at the center of town. From the highway you have a good view of the Tampa skyline. Slightly south of I-275, the Crosstown Expressway, an east-west highway, runs through downtown Tampa, but I-275 does not cross it. Just north of downtown, Interstate 4 branches off, starting here, and running to Orlando and Daytona Beach. It is also the fastest route toJacksonville. North of this interchange, 2×3 lanes are available. One then passes through the wooded areas of Tampa, before rejoining the suburban area. The highway ends near Land ‘O Lakes on Interstate 75, which runs north toward Ocala and Atlanta.
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
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In 1960, the Howard Frankland Bridge was opened west of Tampa. Connecting portions of I-275 opened as I-75 in 1962 in Tampa. The other parts of Tampa also opened in the mid-1960s. Construction of I-275 in Pinellas County around St. Petersburg was delayed quite a bit. In 1975 a section opened in St. Petersburg, but it took until the early 1980s before the highway through the region was completed. The current Sunshine Skyway Bridge opened on April 20, 1987, after the original 1954 bridge had partially collapsed in a collision.
Modernization in Tampa
The western portion of Tampa originally had a twisty track and poor vertical alignment, causing drivers to slow down unnecessarily due to insufficient visibility. The highway between Downtown Tampa and US 92 has been drastically widened, the frontline buildings on the south side have been completely demolished, after which a wide central reservation has been constructed. This section has been widened from 2×3 to 2×4 lanes, but the total right-of-way has become twice as wide for a space reservationin the middle. The section between US 92 and SR-60/SR-589 (Veterans Parkway) has also been drastically modernized. This part had 2×3 lanes and partly no emergency lanes. Part of the frontline buildings here have also been demolished to create better curves. Buildings have already been purchased since 2005, but the actual work was carried out between 2008 and 2016, first on the eastern part, from 2013 on the western part.
In northern Tampa, I-275 has also been widened. The section between I-4 and Busch Boulevard (SR-580) originally had 2×3 lanes, with 2×2 lanes north of it. In 2002-2003, the section between Busch Boulevard (SR-580) and Bearss Avenue (SR-678) was widened to 2×3 lanes. This part had space for this in the central reservation, but all artworks had to be widened in the central reservation. In 2011-2012, I-275 was also widened to 2×3 lanes between Bearss Avenue (SR-678) and I-75. This was also carried out in the central reservation. In 2013-2014, I-275 between I-4 and Busch Boulevard (SR-580) was widened to 2×4 lanes, including in the median strip. For this, all artworks had to be widened on the inside.
Modernization Pinellas County
In Pinellas County, between the Howard Frankland Bridge and St. Petersburg, I-275 has been partially modified. The connection to the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Street was originally a fork where traffic had to exit on the left. This was converted in 2004-2005 into a more modern junction with exits on the right. This connection has also increased the capacity from 2×2 to 2×3 lanes.
In addition, a junction with State Route 690 was constructed in 2002-2003 at Roosevelt Boulevard. This is a mix of a turbine node and a diamond connection.
In the long term, a large part of the I-275 in the Tampa Bay region must be provided with express lanes. The oldest span of the Howard Frankland Bridge over Tampa Bay will be replaced by a new 8-lane bridge between 2020 and mid-2025, bringing a total of 12 lanes (4+2+2+4) across Tampa Bay.
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a toll road. The toll is charged in both directions and SunPass users receive a discount. The toll rates are low.