FDOT unveils plans for new 8-lane Howard Frankland Bridge

Traveling between Tampa and St. Petersburg could soon be a lot easier. On Monday, the Florida Department of Transportation unveiled plans for a new, eight-lane Howard Frankland Bridge that includes room for future light rail. The $750 million project is scheduled to start in 2020.

The northbound section of the bridge, which was built in 1960, needs to be demolished. The current four-lane bridge currently going into St. Petersburg will replace it.  A new eight-lane bridge, that includes four lanes for general use and four express lanes, would be constructed for drivers heading to Pinellas County.

"You would have two express lanes in each direction," says FDOT spokesperson Kris Carson. "Express lanes are tolled."

That means if you want less traffic, you would have to pay for it.

The plans are part of a revamped version of the failed TBX project, which would have added toll lanes to interstates 275 and 4, including the Howard Frankland Bridge.

"This has all be working with the community, things that they wanted to see," said Carson. "With this new eight-lane bridge there is the potential for light rail in the future for bus rapid transit, express bus. That's something we've been working with both counties on."

Bike lanes are also in the plan.

Construction would take four years, starting in 2020.

It's not too late to offer your input for the design. A public hearing is scheduled for November 14 at the Westshore Marriott in Tampa at 5:30 p.m.