Interstate 275 Florida
Interstate 275 in Florida loops through urban areas of Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties in the Tampa Bay area. The freeway joins Downtown Tampa with Downtown St. Petersburg while connecting Pinellas County with Palmetto and Bradenton in Manatee County. Interstate 75, by contrast, bypasses both cities to the east, doubling as a commuter route for Gibsonton, Brandon, New Tampa and Wesley Chapel and carrying regional traffic between Southwest Florida and the Nature Coast.
Interstate 275 starts at a three-wye interchange with I-75 outside Palmetto and extends west through Terra Ceia to the tolled Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay. Northward the freeway winds through St. Petersburg to the eight lane wide Howard Frankland Bridge across Old Tampa Bay. The span turns I-275 east to Westshore in Tampa en route to the central business district and Downtown Interchange with Interstate 4. There the freeway turns almost due north through north Tampa to unincorporated areas of Lutz. Located along the Pasco County line at Wesley Chapel, the northern merge point of I-75/275 is known as the Apex.
Howard Frankland Bridge
An $814 million project scheduled from early 2020 to late 2024 will replace the northbound crossing of the Howard Frankland Bridge. Accommodating four general travel lanes, two tolled Express Lanes, and a multi use trail, a new 168 foot wide bridge will be built along the north side of the southbound span. Upon completion, southbound traffic will shift onto the new span and northbound traffic will be moved from the 1959 bridge onto the current southbound bridge. Subsequent work to expand the northbound bridge to 111 feet in width with two Express Lanes can accommodate rail transit in place of two managed lanes on the new southbound span.
North End – Wesley Chapel, FL
South End – Ellenton, FL
Mileage – 60.64
Cities – St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, Tampa
- Junctions –
Source: December 31, 2018 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-275 Annual Average Daily Traffic (AADT)
|Location||Vehicles per day|
|Downtown St. Petersburg||121,500|
|Harris Park, St. Petersburg||179,000|
|Howard Frankland Br||189,500|
|Sulphur Springs, Tampa||181,000|
Source: 2017 AADT Florida Traffic Online (FDOT)
The Howard Frankland Bridge initially opened with four lanes in 1960. A second span was added in 1990.
The original layout for the Tampa Bay Interstate network took Interstate 4 west from Tampa to St. Petersburg and Interstate 75 south from Pasco County to an end at the Downtown Interchange near Ybor City. Changes were made in 1971, when I-75 was routed southward over I-4 west from Downtown Tampa to Pinellas as part of its extended alignment south to Naples. The eastern alignment of I-75 around Tampa Bay was given the designation of Interstate 75E. This change lasted just two years, when I-75 shifted eastward over proposed I-75E and I-275 was designated over the loop through both Tampa and St. Pete.
Interstate 275 crosses the cable stayed Sunshine Skyway Bridge over the mouth of Tampa Bay. On May 9, 1980, the southbound span of the original Sunshine Skyway Bridge (a steel truss bridge) collapsed when the Summit Venture freighter collided with a bridge support. This led to two-way traffic on the remaining northbound span until the replacement was built. Ultimately, the old bridge was removed, though portions of the approach in both directions were retained for use as fishing piers run by the state park system.
The following are key dates in the history of Interstate 275 in Florida:1
- 1973 – Interstate 275 created when Interstate 75 is shifted from the St. Petersburg-Tampa route to the Tampa Bay bypass. At that time, Interstate 275 was complete from 38th Street North in St. Petersburg north to Lutz. The Sunshine Skyway also carried Interstate 275 shields. The portion of Interstate 275 between the skyway (near Maximo Point) and 38th Street North was unconstructed.
- 1975 – Interstate 275 under construction from 5th Avenue South north to 38th Street North.
- 1977 – Interstate 275 opened from 5th Avenue South north to 38th Street North in St. Petersburg.
- 1980 – Interstate 275 under construction from Interstate 75 near Gillette west to Terra Ceia. Tragedy struck I-275 when the ship Summit Venture collided with the original Sunshine Skyway. 35 people died in this accident, and one of the two spans collapsed.
- 1981 – Interstate 275 under construction from Maximo Point (northern end of the Sunshine Skyway) north to 5th Avenue. The northern terminus of Interstate 275 was extended up former Interstate 75 to near Worthington Gardens.
- 1983 – Two sections of Interstate 275 opened: the south interchange with I-75 and the section of I-275 from Maximo Point (northern end of the Sunshine Skyway) north to 5th Avenue South.
- 1984 – Replacement Sunshine Skyway (a new cable-stayed bridge) was under construction.
- 1987 – New Sunshine Skyway opened on April 30th. At that point, Interstate 275 was complete.
The Sunshine Skyway opened to traffic following a ribbon cutting ceremony on April 30, 1987.3 Festivities were held for the $240 million span on February 7, 1987. Events included a public bridge walk a parade along the north causeway and a dedication ceremony held at Blackthorn Park.4 Construction of the 76 foot diameter concrete pillars supporting the concrete segmental bridge got underway September 24, 1982. The pillars were placed at 1,200 foot intervals, 400 feet farther apart than the old Skyway Bridge.5 The 24 piers holding the northern half of the cable-stayed span were in place by February 1985 as work progressed on the 40 foot wide roadway decks. Construction on the piers for the Skyway’s southern half continued along with the pylons for the two 425 foot high towers.5,6 The 1,200 foot long main span provided 175 feet of navigational clearance.6
Work on the Skyway fell behind schedule due to cracks forming in the concrete segments. Although $16 million over budget, it was previously scheduled to open in August 1986.7 Further delays plagued the project when a gantry used to lift a 220 ton section of concrete roadway collapsed on July 30, 1984. Bridge contractors also took longer to cast the roadway segments than previously anticipated, pushing back completion to Fall 1986.8
When the 22,000 foot long Sunshine Skyway opened to traffic, portions of the former bridge were repurposed into fishing piers. 3,360 feet of the Pinellas County pier were retained while the Manatee County pier represented one of the longest piers in the world at 8,400 feet in length. The steel superstructure of the old bridge was dismantled and sold as scrap. Some of the rubble from the concrete support columns from the old span was used to create artificial reefs nearby.6
North End – Wesley Chapel, Florida
Interstate 275 leaves the interchange with Bearss Avenue (SR 678) and continues north 6.1 miles uninterrupted to the split with ramps for I-75 north and SR 56. Construction between October 17, 2009 and September 17, 20122 added the new ramp (Exit 59) for SR 56 at a cost of $32.7 million. Photo taken 04/25/16.
Exit 59 takes motorists over the I-75 mainline to the adjacent northbound ramp (Exit 275) to SR 56 for interests to Land O’ Lakes, Tarpon Springs and New Port Richey. The addition of this ramp eliminated weaving traffic between the north end of I-275 and the adjacent SR 56 off-ramp. Photo taken 04/25/16.
Four lanes of I-75 pass below SR 56 here on the 1.25 mile approach to the wye interchange (Exit 274) with I-275 south.
Construction expanded Interstate 75 from four to six or eight overall lanes from north of County Road 54 (Exit 279) to a point just south of SR 56 (Exit 275) between March 2011 and November 2014. Subsequent road work widened I-75 through the split with I-275 between October 2011 and Spring 2016. Photo taken 12/14/15.
North End Throwback
South End – Ellenton, Florida
Exit 228 veers away from Interstate 75 south. Interstate 275 meets U.S. 41 one mile to the west at Rubonia. U.S. 19 north merges with I-275 north at Terra Cela ahead of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge toll plaza. The two overlap northward to 54th Avenue S (Exit 17) in south St. Pete. Photo taken 03/01/13.
South End Throwback
The original signage for the split of Interstate 275 from Interstate 75 north from the 1980s. Photo taken by Gene Janczynskyi (10/25/00).
- Florida’s Interstates: A Half-Century of Progress
http://www.fl-interstate.com(official Florida Department of Transportation site). http://mytbi.com/projects/projectinfo.asp?projectID=172&RoadID=1.
- “New Skyway opens Thursday.” St. Petersburg Times (FL), April 29, 1987.
- “Good chance of rain for Skyway dedication.” St. Petersburg Times (FL), February 7, 1987.
- “Concrete poured for new Skyway.” St. Petersburg Times (FL), September 25, 1982.
- “New bridge, new design — but the same spirit.” St. Petersburg Times (FL), April 6, 1987.
- “New bridge begins to poke toward sky.” St. Petersburg Times (FL), February 12, 1985.
- “New bridge comes with new problems.” St. Petersburg Times (FL), July 7, 1985.
Page updated May 21, 2019.