ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Management of a St. Petersburg hospital has said they are against a proposal to remove all or part of Interstate 175, which acts as an entrance and exit ramp into the city.
As the city looks for ways to redevelop the Tropicana Field location, Mayor Rick Kriseman has said he wants I-175, which runs parallel to the ballpark property, removed or shortened to reconnect downtown with St. Pete’s African American community.
The overpass created a physical barrier and displaced many when it was built in the 1970s.
However, Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, which has a pediatric trauma center at the end of the highway, is strongly against its removal.
In a November letter exclusively obtained by FOX 13, the hospital team says while they appreciate the effort to abolish barriers, they are asking the city to keep the roadway because it allows easier access for ambulances and medical staff to get to the hospital when time is critical.
"Our hospital has become even more crucial as the highest number ever of children have moved to or are more likely to move to Medicaid due to financial changes in the family unit," the letter stated. "Prior to advancing this idea, we would like to collaborate with you to ensure safeguard against negative time impacts affecting the health and outcomes of pediatric healthcare offered in St. Petersburg."
Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, another major hospital at the end of the highway, wouldn’t comment on the issue, only saying they strive for the best quality of care.
USF St. Pete is also in the neighborhood and tells FOX 13, "We look forward to further discussions with City of St. Petersburg leadership and other community partners about the future of I-175."
The Florida Department of Transportation is currently studying if removing the roadway is feasible.
Mayor Rick Kriseman’s office has yet to return FOX 13’s request for comment on All Children’s position on the proposal.