If you have noticed while you are driving on Interstate 275 lately you may have seen one of those funny looking overhead signs that have been recently installed in St. Petersburg from Exit 26 (54 Av N) across the Howard Frankland Bridge to Exit 39 (FL 60/Kennedy Blvd/Tampa International Airport). These signs are variable message signs which look like the variable message signs already used in the Orlando and Ft. Lauderdale/Miami metro areas as well as the Florida's Turnpike.
How will these variable message signs benefit you, the Interstate 275 motorist?
Imagine getting on Interstate 275 north at Exit 28 (Gandy Blvd) and you are headed to Tampa via the Howard Frankland Bridge. You have already passed the last opportunity to exit Interstate 275 at Exit 30 (FL 686/Roosevelt Blvd) and you just passed under the 4 St N overpass at Exit 32. Suddenly - you see a traffic jam for miles on the Howard Frankland! You say to yourself that if you have known about it earlier you would have taken the Gandy Bridge into Tampa. Besides, you got to be somewhere in Tampa for a meeting.
Now with the variable message signs being installed important messages will be conveyed to motorists. For instance, in case of an accident or other breakdown on the Howard Frankland northbound causing a traffic tie up the variable message signs would advise you to use the Gandy Bridge into Tampa and give you an opportunity to exit Interstate 275 northbound at Exits 28 or 30 so that you can use the Gandy Bridge (and the Crosstown Expressway, especially if you are headed downtown) into Tampa. As you managed to get around the Howard Frankland bottleneck by being well informed and taking the Gandy Bridge into Tampa, you'll be there for that meeting instead of being stuck in traffic!
Already one of the variable message signs are in operation on southbound Interstate 275 before you get to Exit 26 (54 Av N). It's being used to warn motorists of the temporary closure of the ramp onto Interstate 275 (Exit 23A) due to the tanker truck fire that happened weeks ago (and the Florida DOT is doing everything possible to get this ramp repaired and back in service - great job Florida DOT!) as well as informing motorists of parking conditions at Tropicana Field on Tampa Bay Devil Rays game days and where to exit for other downtown St. Petersburg events. It's in the same location where an older variable message sign was located for many years.
Presently the variable message signs are being installed from north of Exit 26 (54 Av N) in St. Petersburg to north of Exit 53 (Bearss Avenue) in Tampa, with a gap from Exit 39 (FL 60) to Exit 44 (Ashley Drive/Tampa Street) due to upcoming major reconstruction for this segment of Interstate 275 in Tampa just around the corner; it would not be practical to install the variable message signs on this segment until the reconstruction is done. For more information on the upcoming Interstate 275 reconstruction in Tampa check out the Florida DOT's Tampa Bay Interstates website.
Remember, you can also find out traffic information not only for Interstate 275 but for all the major highways in the Tampa Bay area by calling 511 or visiting the 511 Tampa Bay website.
You'll enjoy the new variable message signs when it's all installed and done. Let me know what you think of the new variable message signs going up on Interstate 275.