For those of you who make southbound Interstate 75 crossing US 301 and the Manatee River at Exit 224 a part of your routine, I just learned of some great news when I was checking out Bay News 9: The two southbound lanes of Interstate 75 have just reopened!
The third southbound lane of Interstate 75 is expected to open, hopefully over the weekend. As for the northbound lanes which have been doing double duty since the tanker accident, the Florida DOT will be converting the northbound lanes back to the original three lanes northbound. Hopefully the three northbound lanes of Interstate 75 should be opened by Monday, 23 June 2008.
Sometime when I get down that way I'll take a ride on southbound Interstate 75 at Exit 224 to check out the repairs that were done. From what I understand the work was going to take six weeks to get done but the contractor managed to get it done in half the time; I am pretty sure the contractor is going to enjoy that expedited work bonus that the Florida DOT offered to the contractor if the work was done sooner allowing for the southbound Interstate 75 overpass to be open sooner.
UPDATE AS OF 23 JUNE 2008:
Here is a photo I took of the recently reconstructed bridge on Interstate 75 south at Exit 224. Notice the new concrete pavement compared to the rest of the bridge; this is as I am actually crossing US 301:
The ramp from US 301 to southbound Interstate 75 is still closed so that construction can get wrapped up; hopefully this ramp should be open soon. Until then, to access southbound Interstate 75 from US 301 simply head north on Interstate 75 to Exit 229, which is the exit for Parrish and located just north of Interstate 275's southern terminus at Exit 228. Once at Exit 229 turn left, go under the overpass, and make another left; that will place you on Interstate 75 southbound and get you where you want to go. Simple as that.
Still, this area is a construction zone (at least until all the construction has wrapped up) and please be sure to adhere to any posted reduced speed limits as you pass through the area. You do not want to get a visit from the Florida Highway Patrol and end up receiving a double fine Florida Uniform Traffic Citation; instead save that money for something else. Kudos to the Florida DOT for getting this overpass repaired in a quick and efficient manner!