Here's an article I found at Bay News 9 by their Real Time Traffic Expert Chuck Henson on the problems encountered at Exit 59, which is the exit to FL 56 and Interstate 275's northern end together with Interstate 75. Why all the mess?
Good question, if you may ask.
As you probably know, Interstate 275 from Bearss Avenue (Exit 53) to the northern terminus at Interstate 75 and FL 56 (Exit 59) has been widened from four lanes to six lanes. In general, Interstate 275 is six lanes almost throughout its entire 59 mile route through St. Petersburg and Tampa, save for some minor four lane sections along the route.
For the commuter returning home to Wesley Chapel from downtown Tampa having six lanes on Interstate 275 is ideal. Unfortunately, just before you reach Exit 59 the three lanes northbound quickly dissolve into two lanes thanks to a right lane ends warning sign. Just after the right lane merges into the center lane then the exit for FL 56 (Exit 59), with the two through lanes funneling traffic onto northbound Interstate 75. According to the Bay News 9 article, traffic on northbound Interstate 275 approaching Exit 59 experiences delays, especially during peak commute times, thanks to the lane drop before the exit.
Why couldn't the Florida DOT complete the northbound three lanes of Interstate 275 and let the right lane drop at Exit 59 as an exit only lane? According to the Bay News 9 article, Kris Carson of the Florida DOT mentions that the remainder of the northbound three lanes of Interstate 275 from where it ends now to the FL 56 exit is the small part of the larger widening project. It should have been completed as part of the project already, and it's practically easy enough.
While we're on the subject of Interstate 275's northern terminus at Interstate 75 and FL 56, I believe more should have been done:
1. Add a ramp from northbound Interstate 275 to southbound Interstate 75 providing direct access rather than having to turn around at FL 56.
2. Add a flyover ramp from northbound Interstate 75 to southbound Interstate 275, again providing a direct access flyover rather than having to turn around at FL 56.
3. Make the County Line Road overpass a full overpass bridge crossing both Interstate 75 and 275 mainlines. When the County Line Road overpass was built in the 1980's as part of the Interstate 75 southward expansion project it was rebuilt into two overpasses, one crossing the Interstate 75 mainline and southbound Interstate 275 ramp and the smaller overpass crossing the northbound Interstate 275 ramp feeding traffic onto northbound Interstate 75. Having a full overpass bridge would allow for future expansion, not to mention a potential interchange.
Adding the additional ramps to Interstate 275's northern terminus at Interstate 75 would make the interchange a full fledged interchange at Interstate 75's Exit 274, similar to Interstate 275's southern terminus in Manatee County at Interstate 75's Exit 228. Moreover, adding the additional ramps would make life easier for New Tampa residents with another commute choice to downtown Tampa using Interstate 275 as opposed to Interstate 75 south to Interstate 4.
Don't forget to complement the commute choices with rail based transit. Sure we can widen and improve Interstate 275 but we can do only so much. But adding the ramps at Interstate 275's northern terminus would provide free flow access rather than have motorists go through two traffic signals at FL 56 as part of the interchange.