What Improvement Alternatives are Being Considered?
The current Design Change Reevaluation Study is being undertaken to evaluate design changes to provide two tolled express lanes in each direction from north of I-375 to north of 4th Street North. The design changes under evaluation include alignment changes to tie in to planned improvements to the Howard Frankland Bridge (FPID 4229042 and 4229044) and connect the planned bicycle/pedestrian trail on the Howard Frankland Bridge to Ulmerton Road and 4th Street North.
The proposed typical section generally consists of six non-tolled lanes (three in each direction) and four tolled lanes (two in each direction). A marked, four-foot buffer containing traffic delineaters (i.e., vertical PVC posts) will separate the tolled and non-tolled lanes (see graphic below).The tolled express lanes along I-275 are proposed from north of I-375 to north of 4th Street North (see typical section graphic below). Access will be provided between the tolled and non-tolled lanes north of I-375, near Gandy Boulevard, at 118th Avenue North, and between 4th Street North and the Howard Frankland Bridge.
The current Reevaluation Study does not propose changes to previously approved concepts for lane continuity improvements to enhance traffic operations by minimizing the number of lane changes occurring on I-275.
Location & Design Concept Acceptance (LDCA) Alternative
Prior to the initiation of the current Reevaluation Study, FDOT selected and requested approval from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) for a “Preferred Build Alternative” recommendation, also known as Location and Design Concept Acceptance. FHWA’s acceptance on the type, location, and conceptual design of the recommended operational and safety improvements and congestion management for the 16.3-mile long corridor is required to advance a project to the design and construction phases. FHWA approved the Type II Categorical Exclusion (Type II CE) for this project on July 15, 2016. The Type II CE contains the results of analyses of potential effects to the social, cultural, natural, and physical environment.
The previously approved Preferred Build Alternative consisted of operational improvements to increase the number of continuous lanes on I-275 to two continuous lanes in each direction along 10.6 miles of the corridor, and to provide toll lanes for the remaining 5.7 miles of I-275. To describe the specific types of improvements proposed for the study corridor, I-275 is divided into three segments:
- Segment A (from south of 54th Avenue South to I-175)
- Segment B (from I-175 to south of Gandy Boulevard)
- Segment C (from south of Gandy Boulevard to north of 4th Street North)
Segments A and B
The approved Preferred Build Alternative consisted of intermittent widening and restriping of existing lanes on I-275 to form two continuous lanes on I-275 in each direction. The graphic below illustrates the existing and proposed number of continuous lanes on I-275. The proposed lane continuity improvements enhance traffic operations by minimizing the number of lane changes occurring on I-275. Selected I-275 interchange modifications are also proposed within Segments A and B.
The previously approved Preferred Build Alternative consisted of the addition of tolled express lanes within Segment C. As part of the Tampa Bay Next Plan, one tolled lane was to be added to I-275 in each direction from Gandy Boulevard to north of 4th Street North (see typical section graphic below). Access was to be provided between the tolled and non-tolled lanes near Gandy Boulevard, at 118th Avenue North, and between 4th Street North and the Howard Frankland Bridge. The express lane typical section generally consisted of eight non-tolled lanes (four in each direction) and two tolled lanes (one in each direction). A marked four-foot buffer containing traffic delineators (i.e., vertical PVC posts) separated the tolled and non-tolled lanes.
Subsequent to FHWA approval of the Type II CE, a Typical Section Design Change was proposed to repurpose the approved Type II CE express lane configuration within the portion of Segment C from south of 9th Street North to 1.0 mile south of the Howard Frankland Bridge. The repurposing of one of the two approved express lanes was needed to accommodate the provision of three general use through lanes, one auxiliary lane, and one express lane in each direction. The environmental review, consultation, and other actions required by applicable federal environmental laws for this project are being, or have been, carried out by the FDOT pursuant to Title 23 of the United States Code, Section 327 and a Memorandum of Understanding dated December 14, 2016 and executed by the Federal Highway Administration and FDOT. This initial Design Change Reevaluation was approved by FDOT on April 26, 2017.
The acceptance of the Type II CE and the Design Change Reevaluation constituted approval for the Design-Build construction that is currently underway as part of the Gateway Expressway and I-275 Design Build Project (FPIDs 433880-1 and 424501-2) within Segment C from south of Gandy Boulevard to north of 4th Street North.