FDOT working to solve traffic issues, speed up I-275 project

Florida Department of Transportation officials are urging the contractor on the Intrastate 275 construction to speed up work after new lane shifts caused worse backups than expected.

Construction between Dale Mabry Highway and Himes Avenue required lane shifts and narrowing lanes. Drivers are slowing down, causing backups as far as the St. Petersburg side of the Howard Frankland Bridge.

"I've never seen it that bad and I know I'm not going to go on that highway until they get it straightened out," said Bill McCullough of St. Petersburg.

FDOT says it believes the contractor will be able to complete the work in that area within six weeks and asks drivers to be patient. Work is expected to finish sometime in February.

"We've asked [the contractor] to do whatever they can to try to get this work done under six weeks. We think they'll be able to do that. By how much we can't say exactly," said John McShaffrey, FDOT spokesman.

Those same slowdowns have caused heavier than normal traffic on surrounding roads including Kennedy Boulevard. FDOT will look at traffic signal timing and work with the city of Tampa to alleviate traffic issues there.

The entire I-275 construction project may wrap up earlier than planned, according to FDOT. It's slated for summer completion.