What destinations to place on the Interstate 375 signage

If you haven’t noticed lately, you have seen the destination signage for eastbound Interstate 375 from southbound Interstate 275 in downtown St. Petersburg:

There are two destinations on the signage which no longer exist, according to this St. Petersburg Times article:
1.  BayWalk:  This was an upscale shopping and dining complex together with a movie theater.  Unfortunately, the economic downturn proved to be disastrous for BayWalk which led to so many shops closing and inability to attract new retailers.
St. Petersburg business mogul Bill Edwards (whose money paid for an entry monument on Interstate 275 at the northern entrance to St. Petersburg, just north of 4 St N (Exit 32)) purchased the struggling BayWalk complex and is in the process of reconstructing the complex, which it will become the Shoppes of St. Petersburg.
The movie theater – Muvico’s Baywalk 20 – is the only tenant still remaining.
2.  The Pier:  Practically needs no explanation, other than the fact that the people of St. Petersburg voted down the new Pier project, commonly called The Lens.  The Pier closed in May 2013 but its future is uncertain, depending on the will of the people of St. Petersburg.
So, we have destinations for Interstate 375 east that don’t exist!  As such, the signage will have to be changed; I have some ideas for new destinations that should be on the signage for Interstate 375:
Vinoy/Straub Park
St. Anthony’s Hospital
Vinoy/Straub Park
I threw in St. Anthony’s Hospital, as it is a nonprofit hospital.  I am not sure if you can put the name of a nonprofit hospital on an Interstate highway sign, but I believe you can’t put the name of a for-profit hospital on an Interstate highway sign (Imagine for a moment signage for Northside Hospital at Exit 26 (54 Av N)!)
Fine Arts Museum
Vinoy/Straub Park
OK.  What are your ideas for updating the destination signage for Interstate 375 on Interstate 275 in downtown St. Petersburg?  Feel free to leave a reply!

Minor changes coming to the website

Happy new year!

Hopefully everyone had a great holiday season; now that the holidays are over everyone is getting back into their normal routine.  I have noticed that Interstate 275 is getting increasingly heavier traffic, especially during the morning and evening commute, now that everyone is back home from their holiday vacations.

Now for some minor changes that are coming soon.  You will want to read this and update your bookmarks and links as appropriate.

If you have noticed by typing Interstate375Florida.com or Interstate175Florida.com into your browser, it takes you to the Interstate 375 or Interstate 175 pages here at Interstate275Florida.com respectively.  After all, Interstates 375 and 175 are the feeders from Interstate 275 into downtown St. Petersburg.

Unfortunately, domain names cost money each year to renew.  When you maintain so many domain names the domain name bill adds up.

In that regard, I am going to make a couple of changes to the downtown St. Petersburg feeders pages here at Interstate275Florida.com:

Interstate375Florida.com: I375.Interstate275Florida.com.
Interstate175Florida.com: I175.Interstate275Florida.com.

The I175 and I375 names that are in front of Interstate275Florida.com are what are called subdomains.  These subdomains will point to a specific page here at Interstate275Florida.com; as an example when you type I375.Interstate275Florida.com into your browser it will take you to the Interstate 375 page, the north downtown St. Petersburg feeder, at Interstate275Florida.com.

No content will change, just how you access it.  Just another way of making content easily accessible here at Interstate275Florida.com.  Be sure to update your bookmarks and links!

Interstate 175: A repeat of Interstate 375?

Last week I came across this interesting article from Bay News 9’s traffic reporter Chuck Henson: Ramp not just slippery – but dangerous – when wet.

What we’re talking about is the ramp from southbound Interstate 275 onto eastbound Interstate 175 (Exit 22) in downtown St. Petersburg. This ramp has the same design characteristics as its partner to the north at Exit 23: Left hand exit with a steep curve to the left. However, there is a difference in that traffic using this ramp goes under – rather than over – the northbound lanes of Interstate 275.

Unlike Exit 23A (the ramp from southbound Interstate 275 to eastbound Interstate 375), the only warning signage is the word “Left” in black letters on a yellow background above the exit number tabs as well as advisory signage for the ramp speed of 50 mph mounted on the left side of the southbound lanes at the point of exit. To me, this is an accident waiting to happen.

Realize that the parking lots for Tropicana Field – home of the Tampa Bay Rays – are what’s below you when you exit onto Interstate 175 from southbound Interstate 275 or pass through on the Interstate 275 mainline. Just add a rain slick day and a Rays sellout game with a popular team (such as the New York Yankees or the Boston Red Sox) and you have a potential for an Interstate 375-like accident.

When you exit onto eastbound Interstate 175 from southbound Interstate 275, you will notice that the ramp is banked a little more sharply as it makes its curve towards the east. On the other hand, the Interstate 375 ramp is not as banked to the left. Unfortunately, people in a hurry to be somewhere still continue their 65 mph or greater pace on the Interstate 275 mainline until it’s almost too late.

The concrete deck on the Interstate 175 ramp from southbound Interstate 275 is the same concrete deck when the highway was built in 1977-78. Unfortunately, the concrete deck is not grooved to assist in traction during inclement weather. Additionally, the Interstate 175 ramp from southbound Interstate 275 also has a tendency to flood on the left lane during a severe rain event; there are drains that are supposed to carry the rain water from the ramp into the drainage system but, according to the Bay News 9 article, the ramp area where it floods does not drain.

Now what should be done?

First, get rid of that pesky advisory 50 mph sign mounted on the left side of the ramp and replace it with two Speed Limit 50 regulatory signs plus the speed reduction warning sign before the ramp, just like the setup at Interstate 375. This will get a lot of people to slow down for the ramp, and it will give the Florida Highway Patrol the authority it needs to issue tickets to those who drive way too fast for the ramp. Interstate 175 has a speed limit of 50 mph going eastbound and the speed limit drops to 40 mph at the 6 St S exit prior to Interstate 175’s end at 4 St S.

Second, fix the poor drainage issue on the part of the ramp where it floods in the left lane. The ramp drains are there, but what’s going on as far as maintenance is concerned?

Now for the long term…

The ramps for both Interstate 175 and Interstate 375 from southbound Interstate 275 are indeed haphazardly designed when the highway was built in the mid- to late 1970’s. Unfortunately the engineers to be at the Florida DOT did not take into account the traffic volume nor the fact that we have a Major League Baseball team playing at Tropicana Field, which for all purposes and intents will be staying until the lease expires in 2027. (As for the Rays staying at Tropicana Field, that’s for another topic over at the Edward Ringwald Blog).

What should be done is a collector-distributor ramp should be built from the right lanes which collects traffic from Interstate 275 southbound and distributes traffic into downtown St. Petersburg onto 5 Av N, Interstate 375 and of course Interstate 175. Just like the new collector-distributor ramp that was recently built in Tampa at the exit to Tampa International Airport from northbound Interstate 275 (Exit 39), it would allow traffic headed to downtown St. Petersburg from southbound Interstate 275 to exit at one point and decide how one wants to go into downtown St. Petersburg. Of course traffic headed to Treasure Island would definitely use the 5 Av N exit to reach Central Avenue to head west towards the beaches.

The new collector-distributor ramp would more than likely be a high level ramp that would take motorists over the Interstate 275 mainline to reach Interstates 375 or 175. However, the ramp to 5 Av N would transition from the exit to the existing at grade intersection that currently exists.

So, is it going to take a tragic accident to happen on the Interstate 175 ramp from southbound Interstate 275 – just like what happened on the Interstate 375 ramp – before the Florida DOT gets around to fixing the ramp’s safety issues? You decide.

After all, not only Interstate 175 takes you to downtown St. Petersburg, it also takes you to several important downtown St. Petersburg landmarks including the Mahaffey Theater, the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg Campus and two well known and respected St. Petersburg hospitals: Bayfront Medical Center and the new All Children’s Hospital which has recently joined forces with Baltimore based John Hopkins Healthcare.

Did the Interstate 375 ramp get fixed – or what?

If you have not been by southbound Interstate 275 at the entrance to Interstate 375 lately you may have noticed some differences in the way you are warned just as you get on the high ramp flyover from the left lane. I was surprised when I saw the improvements but these improvements are not enough – yet.

When you are in the left lane to transition from southbound Interstate 275 to eastbound Interstate 375, you are greeted by two kinds of signage recently erected by the good old folks over at the Florida DOT. Here is a description of the signage as you make the transition from Interstate 275 south to Interstate 375 east:

1. On the left side of the southbound lanes of Interstate 275 as you get ready to pass the final overhead sign gantry for Interstate 375, you see a diamond shaped yellow warning sign which is ground mounted. That sign indicates that you are approaching a 50 mph speed zone.

2. Right after you pass the final opportunity for Interstate 375 east from Interstate 275 south, you are greeted by not one but two signs that flank either side of the two lane exit ramp carrying eastbound Interstate 375 traffic: Speed limit 50 mph signs, and this time these signs are regulatory (black text on a white background). In other words, the Exit 50 mph black on yellow advisory signage has been removed.

3. New reflectors mounted on the right hand Jersey barrier wall as you navigate the flyover onto eastbound Interstate 375. These delineate where the Jersey barrier wall is.

So, did the Florida DOT do something to address this increasingly dangerous ramp? The signage is good but not good enough.

In fact, there was a recent article by none other than Drew Harwell at the St. Petersburg Times that briefly explains the improvements done by the Florida DOT. After I have read the article, more work needs to be done – in fact, major work needs to be done to fix this ramp.

More signage needs to be placed in addition to the rudimentary 50 mph ahead and speed limit signage. Over in Tampa at Exit 39 from Interstate 275 southbound there are large warning signs erected with the graphic of the tipping truck because of the design of the ramp which does indeed command reduced speed.

So, here’s my “laundry list” of improvements that the Florida DOT needs to make in the short and mid-term for the dangerous Interstate 375 flyover in downtown St. Petersburg. Hey, Florida DOT, are you reading this?

1. Place an Interstate 375 shield assembly just above the 50 mph ahead warning sign. That way, it lets motorists know that the speed reduction applies only to those motorists who are headed onto eastbound Interstate 375 from southbound Interstate 275.

2. Place yellow warning beacons on top of the Speed Limit 50 signage that was recently erected as an emphasis to let motorists know of the utmost need to reduce speed. After all, there is another set of yellow warning beacons at the end of Interstate 375 where all eastbound traffic is defaulted onto 4 Av N and the speed limit is further reduced to 30 mph.

Now let me emphasize this item a little further. Back when the advisory signage on yellow background was posted the Florida Highway Patrol could not write tickets for anyone going over the 50 mph advisory speed limit on the Interstate 375 flyover. Why? That advisory signage on yellow background was purely advisory in nature and it did not carry the full force and effect of Section 316.183 of the Florida Statutes. In essence, the 65 mph speed limit from Interstate 275 still applied to the Interstate 375 flyover until just before you reach the first sign gantry on eastbound Interstate 375; you had (and still have today) Speed Limit 50 signs flanking either side of the eastbound lanes. Now that the Speed Limit 50 signs have been erected before the flyover, the Florida Highway Patrol can now enforce the reduced speed limit on the flyover and hand out traffic tickets for anyone caught going way too fast on the flyover ramp.

If we step on over to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices – the MUTCD for short – we can understand what the color backgrounds of traffic signs in the USA mean. Yellow coveys a warning message just like the message of the diamond shaped sign before you approach a drawbridge (and the sign is basically the same name, Draw Bridge Ahead), while white conveys a regulatory message informing motorists what can or cannot be done just like the speed limit message. Notice for a moment the meaning of a sign on a white background; it conveys that a certain traffic law which is the subject of the traffic sign must be obeyed at this particular location; for instance, when you travel south on 4 St N towards Gandy Blvd. and you see the Speed Limit 40 sign, you had better reduced your speed to 40 mph or the St. Petersburg Police Department will pull you over and give you a traffic ticket.

(Psst! Want to learn more about traffic signs? Richard Moeur has a great website on traffic signs, simply click on this link – it’s well worth a read! If you are using Internet Explorer 7, you may want to click on that link by right clicking and selecting “open link as a new tab”; that way, you can easily refer back and forth between pages!)

3. Further north on Interstate 275 just about ½ to ¾ mile north of Interstate 375, place signage either ground mounted in the median or a partial overhead gantry mounted in the median warning motorists of the upcoming flyover ahead and the need to begin reducing speed to 50 mph if you intend to exit onto Interstate 375 from southbound Interstate 275. Supplement this with two yellow hazard beacons mounted on top of the sign if you need to place extra emphasis.

4. On the flyover ramp itself, mount a series of left chevrons on the Jersey barrier wall on the right side of the flyover ramp. This will let motorists know that the ramp curves to the left.

5. When the Interstate 375 flyover ramp – as well as the Interstate 275 viaduct which begins at Interstate 375 – was built in 1977, brackets and duct work were put in place to mount highway lighting. Unfortunately, these brackets were not used; instead, high mast lighting was used. Get rid of the high mast lighting and instead place highway lighting on the overpass brackets; if the Florida DOT wants to keep the high mast lighting do so as extra emphasis for safety reasons.

Now we need to explore one more probable safety item, and that is over at Interstate 375’s cousin, Interstate 175 (which is Exit 22 on Interstate 275, the south Downtown St. Petersburg distributor that serves Tropicana Field (Let’s Go Rays!), the two hospitals (Bayfront Medical Center and All Children’s Hospital) and the Mahaffey Theater as well as the St. Petersburg Campus of the University of South Florida). The design of the flyover ramp for Interstate 175 eastbound from Interstate 275 southbound is similar to the design for Interstate 375 and it also requires left lane exit. However, this flyover is a low level flyover in which you go under the northbound lanes of Interstate 275 but the curve banking is much more treacherous than the flyover over at Interstate 375. As this flyover goes over one of Tropicana Field’s parking lots, if you don’t slow down you’ll end up off the ramp and into the parking lot for Tropicana Field – and believe me, you’ll end up being transported to Bayfront Medical Center’s ER rather than a Rays game.

The only warning posted for the Interstate 175 ramp from southbound Interstate 275 is nothing more than a 50 mph ramp advisory sign on a yellow background mounted on the left hand Jersey barrier on the Interstate 275 viaduct just before you exit. Is the Florida DOT waiting for a serious accident to happen on the Interstate 175 flyover as well?

Which leads me to the ultimate major improvement for both eastbound Interstates 375 and 175 from southbound Interstate 275: Construct a right hand exit starting midway between 5 Av N and 22 Av N and have this right hand exit serve 5 Av N, Interstate 375 and Interstate 175. That would mean everyone headed to Downtown St. Petersburg has to use this exit, and that includes anyone wanting to take in a Rays game at Tropicana Field. In other words, it would mean a centralized exit for all of Downtown St. Petersburg from Interstate 275 southbound.

But we don’t know if this major improvement may ever be built. You have major land acquisition issues in this area, not to mention that few homes in this general area are designated as historic landmarks. Then you have the financial issue; in this day and age of the current economy the money isn’t there to do what’s needed. However, there’s the trade-off, and that is motorist safety.

And by the way, if you haven’t read the original St. Petersburg Times article on 6 March 2009, here’s a link straight to the article. Moreover, I also urge you to please read my blog entry on a major attempt by my employer to silence me if you haven’t already. And don’t worry, the Interstate 275 Blog and Interstate275Florida.com will continue to be around for years to come, and I will assure you that my employer will not infringe – or even attempt to infringe – on my First Amendment rights.

Another tragic accident at Interstate 375, Exit 23

Exit 23, which is also known on Interstate 275 as the Interstate 375 exit into downtown St. Petersburg, was the scene of yet another fatal accident Monday evening, 2 March 2009. According to a St. Petersburg Times article, a car traveling southbound on Interstate 275 lost control as it negotiated the exit ramp from southbound Interstate 275 onto eastbound Interstate 375, falling into the City of St. Petersburg’s Water Resources maintenance yard below. Unfortunately, the driver of this car did not survive the crash.

This accident is reminiscent of what happened almost two years ago when the driver of a tanker truck lost control on this same exit ramp and the tanker burst into flames as it fell into the city maintenance yard on the ground. The ramp from southbound Interstate 275 to eastbound Interstate 375 was closed for several weeks as crews had to demolish and rebuild sections of the flyover ramp as the intense heat from the tanker truck fire made parts of the flyover ramp unsafe.

You are probably asking yourself, “Why is Exit 23 becoming unsafe”? It’s a good question which deserves a good answer.

First, let’s start with an excerpt from a letter that I wrote to the St. Petersburg Times shortly after the 2007 tanker truck accident:

When this section of Interstate 275 was built in 1977 I believe the exit onto Interstate 375 (Exit 23A) should have been constructed as a right hand exit with access to 5th Avenue North. However, when the interstate was built with the left exit onto Interstate 375 the signage was well marked with advisories and warnings regarding the left exit and the reduced speed limit to 50 mph.

As a result of numerous sign replacement projects including the most recent one in conjunction with a concrete pavement rehabilitation project a while ago the left exit advisory signage – including the yellow “exit only” panel on the bottom of the sign – was replaced with nothing more than a diagrammatic sign without any mention of a left exit advisory. Any warning of a left exit onto Interstate 375 (or its counterpart, Interstate 175) from Interstate 275 today is nothing more than a little post mounted “Exit 50 mph” sign on the left side. I agree, once you are on that ramp onto Interstate 375 it’s too late.

Next, let’s go over two important issues as to why Exit 23 is getting dangerous:

1. The Exit 23 ramps should have been built as a right exit which would have serviced both eastbound Interstate 375 as well as 5 Av N. A right hand exit is much safer as it promotes a safer highway by not having traffic jockeying for the correct lane as you approach the exit. Moreover, through traffic would continue to flow freely through St. Petersburg on Interstate 275 if the Exit 23 southbound off ramps were constructed as a right exit.

Presently Exit 23 from southbound Interstate 275 is a right exit – but only for Exit 23B, which is the exit for 5 Av N. Those wishing to reach downtown St. Petersburg by way of Interstate 375, also known as Exit 23A, must exit from the left lane.

2. The signage for Exit 23 from southbound as well as northbound Interstate 275 is inadequate as far as ramp warnings are concerned.

Back in 1977 when this section of Interstate 275 opened it featured signage for Interstate 375 complete with a bottom “Exit Only” panel and a large side mounted 50 mph advisory sign on the left side of the road. The same thing applied to northbound Interstate 275 at Exit 23 only that the exit is a right hand exit unlike its southbound counterpart.

Thirty years and several sign replacement projects later, this is what we see on Interstate 275 at Exit 23 in St. Petersburg:

No “Exit Only” warning on the bottom sign panel.

Small post mounted “Exit 50 mph” sign on the left hand ramp.

Diagrammatic advance signage that is adequate, but not adequate enough.

A sign with the word “Left” in black lettering on a yellow background placed atop the Exit 23 tab.

A large diamond right curve along with a very small 35 mph advisory sign on the right hand ramp from northbound Interstate 275.

Steep flyover ramps connecting Interstate 375 with Interstate 275, especially the one lane ramp from northbound Interstate 275 to eastbound Interstate 375.

You do not know that you are transitioning from Interstate 275 to Interstate 375 until it’s too late. In other words, you think you are headed to Bradenton/Sarasota or Tampa until you find out you are in downtown St. Petersburg.

A 3-foot high barrier is what separates you from a three story fall into the City of St. Petersburg Water Resources Department’s maintenance yard, with the only exception of a small chain link fence mounted atop the barrier on the left side of the ramp from northbound Interstate 275 to eastbound Interstate 375. Of course there are shoulders on each side, but the shoulders are not wide enough.

Now that you have the facts in hand, here are my recommendations to get Interstate 275 at Exit 23 (Interstate 375) fixed:

1. Erect large “tipping truck” warning signs along with flashing beacons on the ramps to Interstate 375 from both southbound and northbound Interstate 275. The signage is similar to warning signage on southbound Interstate 275 at Exit 39 in Tampa, where the ramp onto westbound FL 60 is an extremely sharp turn to the right.

2. Place easier to read and interpret warning signage on the advance signage for Interstate 375 from Interstate 275 on both directions. Signage stating that the exit is a left exit is good but not good enough.

3. In the long term, and when the economy gets back on track, consider relocating the exit for Interstate 375 from a left hand exit to a right hand exit. Another possibility would be to have all traffic for Interstate 375, Interstate 175 and 5 Av N exit Interstate 275 north of 5 Av N utilizing a dedicated right hand exit ramp which would collect traffic from Interstate 275 headed to downtown St. Petersburg and distribute it among Interstate 175, Interstate 375 and 5 Av N. The ramp would look similar to a collector-distributor off ramp which services Jefferson Street, Ashley Drive/Tampa Street and Doyle Carlton Drive from southbound Interstate 275 and westbound Interstate 4 in downtown Tampa.

I recently have drawn a diagram of what Interstate 275 at Interstate 375 looks like today compared to how it should have been built in 1977.

How many more accidents are we going to see at Exit 23 on Interstate 275 in St. Petersburg before the Florida DOT gets to doing something about it? How many more vehicles are going to end up in the City of St. Petersburg’s maintenance yard as a result of inadequate warning of the transition from Interstate 275 to Interstate 375 in downtown St. Petersburg?

You can read more about Interstate 375 in downtown St. Petersburg simply by clicking on this link to go over to the Interstate 375 page at Interstate275Florida.com. There you can see pictures of Interstate 375, including pictures of the interchange the morning after the 2007 tanker accident along with commentary.

Now I want your input on how we can fix the Exit 23 mess. Lastly, my condolences to the family of the driver who lost his life this past Monday (3/2/09) on Interstate 275 at Interstate 375.

An Update!

Recently the St. Petersburg Times did an article on how the ramp from southbound Interstate 275 to eastbound Interstate 375 and you can read it by clicking here. Hey, your Interstate275Florida.com webmaster is mentioned! Drew Harwell did a great job on this article.

One more item I forgot to mention in this blog entry is the lighting. When Interstate 275 and Interstate 375 was built in 1977, all the overpass bridges had brackets on the side for installation of highway lighting consistent with the rest of Interstate 275 through St. Petersburg. However, the Florida DOT opted for the high mast lighting throughout the viaduct section of Interstate 275 through Downtown St. Petersburg.

I think the highway lighting found on the sides of Interstate 275 should have been installed at the time Interstate 275 at Interstate 375 was built. If the highway lighting was better, it would have let motorists know of the ramp that is ahead, especially at night.

Headed to the 2008 World Series at Tropicana Field? Read this!

If you’re headed to Games 1 and/or 2 of the 2008 World Series at Tropicana Field, congratulations! By so doing, you are a part of history in the making as the Tampa Bay Rays go to the World Series for the first time.

Now for those of you coming from Tampa or Bradenton/Sarasota using Interstate 275, you need to pay attention to this blog entry. We’ll show you how to navigate Interstate 275 all the way to Downtown St. Petersburg and Tropicana Field. Also, for those of you lucky St. Petersburg residents who got tickets to either or both World Series games, we’ll show you how to navigate Interstate 275 to the Trop.

Coming from Tampa:

Use Interstate 275 south (crossing the Howard Frankland Bridge) to Exits 23A (Interstate 375) or Exit 22 (Interstate 175). Make sure you remain in the left lane for either exit, as these exits from Interstate 275 are left hand exits.

If you use Exit 23A: Take the first exit from Interstate 375, which will be Martin Luther King Street North. Turn right onto Martin Luther King Street North and remain in the right lane as you will go south about six blocks. Turn right at 3rd Avenue South and that will take you into the Tropicana Field parking lot.

If you use Exit 22: Recommended exit is the second exit on Interstate 175, 6th Street South, as the first exit – Martin Luther King Street South/8th Street South – will be congested. Once you get off on 6th Street South, turn left and go north on 6th Street South for two blocks. Then you will want to turn left onto 3rd Avenue South and proceed west; this will take you into the Tropicana Field parking lot.

Coming from Bradenton/Sarasota:

Use Interstate 275 north (crossing the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, $1.00 toll) to Exit 22, Interstate 175. Be sure to be in the right lane.

Recommended exit is the second exit on Interstate 175, 6th Street South, as the first exit – Martin Luther King Street South/8th Street South – will be congested. Once you get off on 6th Street South, turn left and go north on 6th Street South for two blocks. Then you will want to turn left onto 3rd Avenue South and proceed west; this will take you into the Tropicana Field parking lot.

No matter what direction you come from, always read and follow variable message signs posted on Interstate 275 as you get closer to Tropicana Field. These signs will advise you on parking availability at Tropicana Field as well as Downtown St. Petersburg.

St. Petersburg area residents headed to Games 1 and/or 2:

Follow the directions given above if you are headed to Tropicana Field on Interstate 275. Alternatively, you can follow 4th Street North, Martin Luther King Street North or 16th Street North as these streets will lead you into Downtown St. Petersburg and Tropicana Field. Besides, these three streets are a great alternative to Interstate 275 if in the event it becomes congested.

Parking at Tropicana Field:

The advice from the City of St. Petersburg: Get there early.

Here’s more advice from the City of St. Petersburg which you should know about before setting out to Tropicana Field to see the World Series which I would like to share with you:

Get there early: Enjoy restaurants and other entertainment opportunities downtown before the games. For the ALCS series, fans were observed arriving early; and this strategy will need to continue. Fans arriving several hours before the first pitch (8 p.m) will find parking available in on-site parking lots (approx. 7,000 spaces). Fans arriving an hour or two early will find parking available in surface lots within a half mile walk of the field (approx. 4,000 additional spaces). Many supplementary lots have opened for the playoffs, including the City’s water resources lot on 16th Street near 2nd Avenue North. Fans arriving after surrounding parking is full will need to park closer to the downtown waterfront and either walk or take the free baseball shuttle. If all on-site parking lots are full, police and variable message boards will indicate that fans need to utilize overflow parking.

Take the free shuttle to Tropicana Field: Avoid the traffic and higher parking costs around Tropicana Field. City officials have added extra vehicles and service time to the shuttle system in order to accommodate more fans. On both days, the shuttle will begin service at 5:30 p.m. for the 8 p.m. games. Shuttle service ends 90 minutes after the end of each game. The free baseball shuttle picks up fans at the corner of Central Ave. and Second St. S. (under the Bank of America Tower’s pedestrian bridge) and drops off passengers on First Ave. S. near 16th St. The city-owned South Core garage, accessible on First Ave. S. just east of Second St., is the designated shuttle parking facility and costs $5. Other parking is available in the immediate downtown area. A dedicated van will be available for guests with special needs. Additional information including a route map can be found at www.loopertrolley.com/Events and additional baseball parking information is available at www.stpete.org/baseballparking.

Park downtown by the waterfront: For the Rays game, drivers should utilize the South Core garage as described above. The best route to the South Core garage from I-275 is the I-175 exit and drivers should stay in the left lanes to bypass the baseball traffic getting off at 8th Street and 6th Street. Drivers will then take a left on 3rd Street and a right on 1st Avenue South to arrive at the South Core garage. Parking downtown will generally be less expensive than parking around Tropicana Field.

Utilize alternate routes to the game: Drivers familiar with local roads may wish to avoid the interstate system in favor of surface level roads. Fourth Street from the north is a good route to both downtown parking and Tropicana Field parking. From the South, fans can utilize 16th Street and 5th Avenue South. Fans utilizing the interstate from the North may wish to exit early and utilize 54th, 38th or 22nd Avenue North and go east to 4th Street. Fans coming from the South on the interstate can exit early on 31st Street to 5th Avenue South.

Utilize alternate routes after the game: Alternate routes are also advisable after leaving the game. Points of congestion to avoid include 8th, MLK and 20th Streets between 5th Avenue South and 5th Avenue North as well as 5th Avenue North, from 8th Street to 22nd Street. Alternate routes to the interstate are advisable including 4th Street North to 38th or 54th Avenue North for north-bound traffic and 4th Street south to I-175, then I-275 or 31st Street South to I-275 for south-bound traffic. Drivers on 1st Avenue North may wish to go west to 34th Street and then go north or south rather than utilizing the primary routes of MLK, 8th and 20th streets. These alternate routes and points of congestion should also be noted by other drivers who may not have gone to the game but are on the road during peak ingress and egress periods.

Beware of where you park: Do not violate parking regulations; parking enforcement will be issuing citations for illegal parking. Also be careful when parking in overflow lots surrounding Tropicana Field. There have been reports of persons illegally selling parking on property they do not own or control. Do not park in a lot if you are not sure that it is legitimate. Parking attendants should be in uniform and should provide a receipt/ticket when you pay. If the lot or the attendant/cashier does not look legitimate, park somewhere else.

To sum up, here’s a schedule for the 2008 World Series played at Tropicana Field:

Game 1 is Wednesday, 22 October 2008 at 8 PM.
Game 2 is Thursday, 23 October 2008 at 8 PM.
Game 6 is Wednesday, 29 October 2008 at 8 PM.
Game 7 is Thursday, 30 October 2008 at 8 PM.

Games 3, 4 and 5 are being played in Philadelphia; Games 6 and 7 will be played if necessary.

I got a related blog entry on the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2008 championship season, which you can read by clicking here. It’s worth a look!

LET’S GO RAYS! LET’S TAKE HOME THE WORLD SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP! Interstate275Florida.com and EdwardRingwald.com are proud of the Tampa Bay Rays’ 2008 achievement!