Interstate 175 (South Bay Drive) constitutes the southern freeway spur connecting I-275 with Tropicana Field and Downtown St. Petersburg. I-175 is only one-tenth of a mile longer than nearby Interstate 375 (North Bay Drive). The freeway doubles as Florida State Road 594, which extends one block east of the freeway end to SR 687 (3rd Street South) north.
Serving the St. Petersburg Innovation District, a new ramp opened from 4th Street S northbound to I-175 west by Summer 2017. Planned since 2005, the $600,000 project was funded by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT). The connection improved access to the Interstate system from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and the Dali Museum.1
When Interstate 75 was relocated to the east Tampa bypass in Hillsborough County in the late 1970s, five miles of eligible Interstate mileage became available for use elsewhere in Florida. Some of this unused mileage was allocated for the South Bay Drive spur to Downtown St. Petersburg (Interstate 175).
South Bay Drive was constructed in tandem with North Bay Drive (I-375) in two phases between 1977 and 1980. Work on the final link for the freeway, between 9th Street S (Martin Luther King, Jr. Street) and 4th Street S, commenced in 1977.2 Interstate 175 opened to traffic without fanfare on July 23, 1980 at total cost of $8.5-million. However it was not officially included in the Interstate System until November 1982.3