Monday, August 10, 2009

Live in Central Pinellas County?

If you are one of those Interstate 275 commuters that live in central Pinellas County and work in downtown St. Petersburg, you know that you can go east on CR 296 all the way to 31st Court North where you can get onto Interstate 275 to St. Petersburg as well as Tampa. It sure beats using congested Roosevelt Blvd. any day since the ramps to CR 296 opened in September 2002.

Now if you are headed home after a tough day at the office in downtown St. Petersburg, you know that you cannot directly get on to CR 296 to head west towards Pinellas Park, Seminole or Largo. Instead, you have to get off at FL 686 (westbound Roosevelt Blvd., Exit 30) and do a quick merge into the left lane once you are on Roosevelt in order to turn left onto 28 St N, as this is the only way from Interstate 275 south to westbound CR 296. Besides, you are stuck in the traffic light queue making the left turn from Roosevelt Blvd. to 28 St N. Sounds like a long commute going home?

Well, that is about to change. If you have seen the construction signs around the vicinity of Exit 30 on Interstate 275 this is because the Florida DOT just recently started on a project to connect southbound Interstate 275 directly into CR 296 and at the same time have traffic free flow onto CR 296 westbound.

Now what does this mean for you?

If you like the convenience of entering Interstate 275 from CR 296, that’s great. Now you’ll get a better convenience of exiting northbound Interstate 275 onto westbound CR 296 without the hassle of being stuck in afternoon rush hour traffic on Roosevelt Blvd. After you pass the split for FL 686 you go on a westbound dedicated ramp that was constructed in 1970 which takes you high over Interstate 275 (in fact, the greatest height on this ramp is 31 feet 2 inches as you cross the exit ramps for Exit 30 from southbound Interstate 275!). As you get ready to make the downhill descent towards Roosevelt Blvd. there will be another split, one for Roosevelt Blvd. westbound and the other to connect into CR 296 westbound.

The new CR 296 westbound ramp will take you over Roosevelt Blvd. and then connect into the existing CR 296 westbound coming from southbound Interstate 275. But that’s not all.

You will be able to free flow into CR 296 by way of an overpass that will carry you over the eastbound lanes of CR 296 and that will take you west towards Pinellas Park, Seminole or Largo. CR 296 has three names that we St. Petersburg and Pinellas County area residents know: 118 Av N, Bryan Dairy Road and 102 Av N. Seminole is connected by way of a new high level bridge spanning Lake Seminole that opened in the mid-1990’s.

As for the flow of eastbound CR 296 to Interstate 275, I am not sure if it will allow free flow from eastbound CR 296 to Interstate 275 without having to make the sharp turn at 30th Court North as it is present practice. But it would be nice for eastbound CR 296 motorists headed towards Interstate 275 to have a free flow movement rather than a stop and go at the traffic signal at 31st Court North.

According to the Florida DOT, construction on this much needed improvement is expected to be wrapped up by Spring 2012. For those that are anxious to see this improvement done, we are going to have to put up with inconveniences that go with any road improvement project: Barrels, barricades, reduced speed, speeding fines doubled in construction zones, and Florida Highway Patrol presence. But in the end, you will have a better way to get to the office in downtown St. Petersburg in the morning and a better way to get home after a long day. It will be inconvenient at first but we’ll have something better in the long run.

In the meantime, feel free to check out my Exit 30 page over in the St. Petersburg section at Interstate275Florida.com. It's worth taking a look!

2 comments:

Matt said...

Ummm...what Road is CR 296? Is that Roosevelt/Gandy?

Edward Ringwald said...

Matt, that's County Road 296, which is also known by three different names in central Pinellas County: 118 Av N, Bryan Dairy Road and 102 Av N. It includes a bridge that was built over Lake Seminole.

It is supposed to be an alternative to Gandy/Park Blvd and Ulmerton Road/Roosevelt Blvd, as these roads experience heavy traffic especially during the morning end evening rush hours. However, CR 296 does not go to the beaches compared to Park Blvd or Ulmerton Rd which do.