In 1987, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) began the development of a Master Plan (Phase I) for the Tampa interstate system. The purpose of Phase I of the Tampa Interstate Study (TIS) was to identify needed and justified improvements to approximately 58.9 km (36.6 mi.) of I-275, I-75, and I-4 to safely accommodate anticipated travel demand in the year 2010. The overall objective of the Master Plan was to identify alternatives and make recommendations regarding the preferred type and location of multi-lane improvements, potential high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) facilities, transit facilities, traffic management techniques, and traffic surveillance and control systems. The results of the TIS Phase I are documented in the TIS Master Plan Report (August 1989), published separately.
The project study limits include approximately 24.1 km (15 mi.) of I-275 and I-4 and begin at Memorial Highway (S.R. 60) from I-275 to just north of Cypress Street and I-275 from the Howard Frankland Bridge/Kennedy Boulevard ramps north to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, I-4 from I-275 (including interchange) to east of 50th Street (U.S. 41), the proposed Selmon Connector from I-4 southward to the existing Selmon Expressway, and improvements to approximately 7.08 km (4.4 mi.) of the Selmon Expressway from the Kennedy Boulevard overpass east to Maydell Drive.
Study Purpose and Need
The majority of the Tampa interstate system was designed and constructed in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. Realizing the need to upgrade the antiquated interstate, the potential benefits of 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 Department 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.
Locally Preferred Alternative
Through the SEIS process, FDOT has identified the Locally Preferred Alternative (LPA) that will be submitted to FHWA for approval. The LPA includes the full reconstruction of the Westshore Area Interchange, including the addition of tolled express lanes, additional capacity via tolled express lanes along the I-275 corridor connecting the Howard Frankland Bridge and Westshore area to Downtown Tampa, and improvements to the Downtown Tampa Interchange (I-275/I-4) to enhance safety and improve traffic operations.
I-275/I-4 Interchange – Locally Preferred Alternative
I-275/I-4 Interchange – Locally Preferred Alternative (Technical Flyover Animation)
The following sections addresses the Long-Term Preferred Alternative as recommended in the TIS Master Plan in Phase I and refined in Phase II. In addition, the Long-Term Preferred Alternative shows geometrics for the I-4/Selmon Connector interchange and the Selmon Connector alignment between I-4 and the Selmon Expressway and the Selmon Expressway improvements.
On November 14, 1991, the FDOT adopted an “Interstate Highway System Policy” which established the maximum number of through lanes for the interstate system within Florida. After extensive coordination with the FHWA and the FDOT’s Central Office, it has been determined that the Long-Term Preferred Alternative is consistent with the intent of the Policy.
The Long-Term Preferred Alternative includes a multitude of improvements such as major interchange connections serving the mainline freeway, a local access freeway, and frontage roadways.