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Here are updates on five major roadway projects throughout Tampa Bay

Gateway Expressway construction with the St. Pete- Clearwater Airport sign at the right
Victoria Crosdale
WUSF Public Media
The Gateway Expressway project will create two new elevated express toll lanes for drivers from U.S.19 to I-275 and from the Bayside Bridge to I-275.

From downtown highways to high traveled interchanges, drivers in the greater Tampa Bay region can expect to see frequent construction projects as the area continues to grow.

Some of the busiest highways and roads across the greater Tampa Bay region are currently undergoing construction, including Gateway Expressway, Howard Frankland Bridge, I-75 interchanges, and the downtown I-275 corridor.

All of these construction projects may seem confusing and never ending to local drivers.

However, Kris Carson, spokesperson for the Florida Department of Transportation, says the influx of road projects is the department’s handling the growth of drivers in the area.

“There is a lot of growth and a lot of people are wanting to move to Florida, which is a great thing for our economy, but it also brings congestion,” Carson said. “But we are handling it. We have a lot of great projects, and the Tampa Bay area's very fortunate to have a lot of money coming our way for infrastructure.”

To help drivers understand the status of road projects in the region, here are five of the more prominent ones that are ongoing across the greater Tampa Bay region.

The Gateway Expressway

  • What: A link from U.S. 19 and the Bayside Bridge to I-275
  • Where: Pinellas County
  • Cost: $594.7 million
  • Date of completion: Early 2023

To many motorists, the Gateway Expressway may look confusing and hectic at the moment. The half-built roads and overpasses, or blocked-off lanes, will result in easing traffic and making it easier for a growing number of drivers to travel between Pinellas and Hillsborough counties.
The roads associated with the project not only connect drivers to St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport, but also to the Howard Frankland Bridge, making them vital for commuters in the region.

Carson said the project is very complex, but everything is going as planned.

The hectic construction is all part of the FDOT’s plan to reconstruct the roads in order to help enhance safety and improve traffic flow in the busy area, as the region continues to grow.

“It's really going to help all of our visitors, all of our residents in the Tampa Bay area, and hopefully make for a little less congested traffic,” Carson said. “But the big thing for us is increasing our safety. We want to reduce the number of crashes all over interstates and all over all of our roads in general.”

Gateway Expressway map
Florida Department of Transportation
A map of the entire Gateway Expressway project area including where I-275 will be widened and the two new elevated expressways.

For example, Carson said, part of the plan includes widening I-275 by creating a toll lane in each direction, from south of Gandy Boulevard to Fourth Street North in St. Petersburg.

The project will also create two new elevated express toll lanes for drivers from U.S.19 to I-275 and from the Bayside Bridge to I-275.

Carson said the Express Lanes will collect revenue for the maintenance of the roadways and also for traffic management.

Gateway Project Aerial
Florida Department of Transportation

“If you have a road that's very congested, the toll might be a little bit higher,” Carson said. “During non-peak hours, a toll would be a little bit lower. It just depends which express lane that we're talking about.”

Along with construction of new tolled expressways — to alleviate congestion in the area for drivers – roads within the project area will be improved.

This includes new ramps and overpass structures along with the construction of a new airport access road.

Carson said there are a lot of different parts working together — and a lot of construction.

“We just ask for people's patience as they drive through the area,” Carson said. “And of course for them to be careful with their speeds of all of our construction workers that are out there.”

Road Closures: Due to the size of this project, road closures are expected to change frequently throughout the construction period. You can stay up to date with current closures and sign up for alerts here.

Aerial view of the SR 56/I-75 iInterchange
Florida Department of Transportation
Once construction is completed, the Diverging Diamond Interchange design is expected to increase safety and capacity at the I-75 and SR 56 Interchange.

I-75 / SR 56 Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI)

  • What: A more efficient interchange where I-75 and SR 56 meet
  • Where: Pasco County
  • Cost: $33 million
  • Date of completion: Summer 2022

Drivers in Pasco County may be wondering why the construction on the interchange at I-75 and State Road 56 is taking so long, after the first contractor chosen to reconstruct the interchange fell behind schedule.
However, Carson said work has resumed with a new contractor and construction on the diverging diamond interchange is expected to be completed soon.

She said the new interchange is much needed due to the growth of Wesley Chapel and surrounding areas of Pasco County.

“There's a lot of work going on out there,” Carson said. “But if you drive that area. (you know that) this is a very heavily congested area as well, with lots of development, lots of stores and traffic.”

When construction is finished, drivers can expect a whole new interchange that will allow efficient and safe travel through the area for both motorists and pedestrians.

Unlike a conventional interchange, Carson explained that no matter what direction cars are driving on State Road 56, drivers will cross to the left side of the road through the interchange, and then cross back over to the right side of the road, on the opposite side of the interchange.

Once the interchange is completed, drivers will be guided through the new interchange by barriers and signals that will direct traffic to the proper course, ensuring that motorists are not confused by the change.

This will also make it easier for drivers leaving the highway to exit the interchange and enter the interstate without waiting at a left turn signal.

Carson explained the interchange has a high left-turn volume and the diverging diamond design is perfect for the type of traffic in the area.

“We chose a diverging diamond interchange for this area because of the traffic congestion,” Carson said. “(With the design) you can increase the safety and it can move capacity pretty quickly through that area.”

This isn’t the first time the greater Tampa Bay region has been introduced to such an interchange. The same design has proven to be effective in the Sarasota area, I-75 and University Parkway.

Carson said the design is so effective, the FDOT is looking at interchanges all over the state that could benefit from such a design.

You can learn more about how the diverging diamond interchange works from the Florida Department of Transportation.

Road Closures: Road closures are expected to take place from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. You can stay up to date on current road closures here.

Howard Frankland Bridge Rendering
Florida Department of Transportation
Pictured above is the design plan for the new bridge being constructed north of the current Howard Frankland Bridge. The construction design includes plans to accommodate rail transit in the future if needed.

I-275 (Howard Frankland Bridge)

  • What: New bridge connecting Tampa and St. Petersburg
  • Where: Hillsborough and Pinellas counties
  • Cost: $865 million
  • Date of completion: Late 2025

Like the Gateway Expressway, the Howard Frankland Bridge connects the city of Tampa to St. Petersburg and is part of one of the busiest cluster of roads in the county.
Drivers know all too well about the common backups on the bridge during high traffic times due to its limited capacity.

To alleviate traffic, a new bridge is being built. Drivers can see the progress of the construction as large pillars are slowly built just next to the lanes on the north side of the existing southbound/westbound (Tampa to St. Petersburg) span.

The construction will be vital as the area grows, and it will help ease traffic for drivers by increasing capacity.

This should not impact roads leading off the bridge or create bottlenecks, Carson said. The FDOT has already started projects to support this increase.

She said projects such as the Gateway Expressway, construction of a new Howard Frankland Bridge, and work on the Westshore Interchange are all connected in hopes of creating a safer corridor throughout the city.

“We've been really lucky in our district to get a lot of money for these projects in the Tampa Bay area. Because we do have a lot of congestion,” Carson said. “We had a lot of improvements that were needed and we're getting all the funding that we need. And a lot of it's under construction already.”

Once construction on the new bridge is finished, Carson explained that drivers will be able to use all eight lanes. There will be four general use lanes, allowing drivers to travel from Tampa to St. Petersburg, and four Express lanes that will allow drivers to travel either way.

The existing southbound/westbound (Tampa to St. Petersburg) bridge will be converted to allow drivers to travel on all four lanes from St. Petersburg to Tampa.

Once the new bridge is built and all traffic is moved to the final alignment, the existing northbound/eastbound (St. Petersburg to Tampa) bridge will be removed.

Road Closures: Road closures are possible during construction. You can stay up to date with current or changing closures here.

Aerial view of the current clover style interchange design and bridge over the Manatee River
Florida Department of Transportation
Pictured above is the current clover style interchange design and bridge over the Manatee River that will be reconstructed into a diamond style interchange

I-75 and US 301 Interchange

  • What: Reconstruction of I-75 and 301 Interchange
  • Where: Manatee County
  • Cost: $145 million
  • Date of completion: By 2025

The interchange is being constructed to prepare for the future growth of Manatee County and other nearby areas. It will accommodate more cars and improve travel for drivers by adopting a new diamond interchange style.
The current cloverleaf design is known for using a large amount of land and is best suited for rural areas with low amounts of traffic. However, due to the predicted growth of the area and need for land, the diamond interchange has been chosen to update the interchange and prevent future congestion in the area.

Additionally, I-75 will be widened and two additional bridges over the Manatee River will be built to accommodate the growing number of drivers on the road and support the interchange.

FDOT spokesman Adam Rose said crews are finishing prep work and scheduled to start the resurfacing and inside widening of I-75.

“At this time, the new bridges are still scheduled to start in early April,” Rose said. “They will be doing the I-75 southbound on-ramp bridge first, working from north to south.”

Road Closures: Get updates on current road closures from Manatee Countyhere.

I-275 from north of I-4 to North Hillsborough Avenue

  • What: Road improvements and lane additions to I-275
  • Where: Hillsborough County
  • Cost: $85 million
  • Date of completion: Early 2026

Improvements to I-275 north of Hillsborough Avenue near downtown Tampa are intended to ease travel there and create better noise barrier walls for the surrounding neighborhoods.
North of I-4, I-275 runs through the heart of Tampa neighborhoods and acts as a direct highway in and out of the city. Drivers know the road is heavily traveled and in need of an update.

That is why the current construction is happening, even though the large orange signs and lane closures can make travel difficult at times.

Like the Howard Frankland, Gateway Expressway, and Westshore projects, Carson said this helps support the overall growth of the area.

The project will also involve adding one lane in either direction, using the existing right of way, and installing Intelligent Transportation System (ITS) devices.

“An Intelligent Transportation System, or ITS, uses a variety of devices, including electronic roadway signs and closed-circuit television cameras, to advise motorists about travel times, roadway congestion, lane closures, and current weather or emergency conditions,” Carson said.

Construction will also include various pedestrian overpasses, Carson said, along with improved sidewalks and new LED lighting to create safer travel for both drivers and pedestrians.

Road Closures: Construction is taking place during the day and night due to high traffic volumes. Any work that requires lane or road closures will occur at night between 9 p.m and 6:30 a.m. Occasionally, interstate ramps will close at night between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Stay updated on current road closures for this project here.

I am the WUSF Rush Family Social Media Intern for spring 2022.
I am the WUSF Rush Family Multimedia Intern for spring 2022.