The majority of the Tampa interstate system was designed and constructed in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Realizing the need to upgrade the antiquated interstate system, the potential for High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) improvements, and to qualify the urban interstate system in Hillsborough County for Federal interstate funds, a preliminary study was conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) in 1983. This preliminary study established year 2010 traffic for the interstate system and described potential short-term safety and geometric solutions for the existing interstate. Additionally, the study identified long-term, HOV-related improvements to accommodate year 2010 traffic volumes.
Study Purpose and Need
A significant conclusion from the completed study determined that efforts must be expanded to consider all transportation needs within the corridor, including any concurrent highway, rail, or transit improvements to the area which may impact the corridor, and to recommend improvements to the interstate system to accommodate those needs.
Using the 1983 justification as a documented base, the Tampa Interstate Study (TIS) began in late 1987. Generally, the purpose of the study was to produce a Master Plan (Phase I), conceptual design, and environmental impact data base for improvements to I-4, I-75, and I-275. Specifically, the objectives of Phase I of the TIS were to prepare a series of reports documenting the requirements for conceptual design, including existing and predicted conditions, typical sections, right-of-way requirements, environmental constraints, and costs of recommended alternatives. The recommended improvements are intended to serve traffic and transportation needs through the year 2010.
Services performed in Phase I included the following:
- A Master Plan of improvements to I-4, I-75, and I-275 to accommodate transportation needs through the year 2010.
- Justification Report(s) for critical recommended new interchange locations sufficient to obtain Federal interstate funding.
- Conceptual designs of the recommended improvements in sufficient detail to identify structural, environmental, and right-of-way impacts.
- Conceptual right-of-way requirements.
- Development and consensus of a multi-modal transportation system to accommodate year 2010 needs.
- Preliminary cost estimates of all improvements, time-phased in accordance with the Master Plan.
Following FHWA acceptance of the TIS Master Plan, provisions were set forth by the FDOT to implement Phase II of the TIS. Phase II of this study is intended to satisfy the requirements necessary to fully complete environmental documentation of the recommended Master Plan. Completion of Phase II activities will enable the FDOT to proceed with final design and to seek construction funding of the Tampa interstate system. This document provides the Environmental Assessment of the project limits identified as I-275 from the Howard Frankland Bridge to east of the Dale Mabry Highway interchange and Memorial Highway (S.R. 60) from I-275 to just north of Cypress Street.
The Preferred Alternative consists of a four-roadway system made up of interstate express lanes and separate local access freeway lanes. HOV /Transitway lanes are included within the interstate alignment ending at Trask Street with an envelope reserved to carry the HOV /Transitway lanes across the Howard Frankland Bridge.
HOV priority ramps will be provided to and from the east on I-275 at Trask Street. A fully directional interchange will be included for the I-275 connection to the Veterans Expressway, and direct ramping will be provided from Memorial Highway (S.R. 60) and Kennedy Boulevard to the Veterans Expressway. Existing interchange locations at Westshore Boulevard, Lois Avenue and Dale Mabry Highway will remain. Other new non-interstate improvements include the Sherrill Street extension north from Memorial Highway (S.R. 60) and Kennedy Boulevard under I-275 to Cypress Street, and the new Lemon Street Connector to Westshore Boulevard from Occident Street.